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.


Revenge of the Lake Smelts! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Lady Margo Cargo’s upholstered wooden leg seems to have a life of its own! (How’s that for a lead sentence? Nobody does it like Violet Crepuscular.)

In Chapter CDXIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Ms. Crepuscular returns to the apocalyptic roller derby match pitting the visiting Ulan Bator Lake Smelts vs. the team from neighboring Plaguesby. Just as the game was getting to the point where none of the spectators would admit to ever having been in Plaguesby, or having any family there, or even knowing where it is, Lady Margo Cargo’s upholstered wooden legs goes flying out into the middle of the rink, instantly become a serious and even deadly hazard.

The Lake Smelts’ star jammer, Minnie Chukutai, is injured; well, rather badly injured, actually; in fact, killed outright. This inspires the Plaguesby squad to score a point while Ulan Bator reels in shocked disbelief.

“Please, dear reader,” inserts Ms. Crepuscular, totally destroying the flow of the narrative, “don’t take this to mean the city of Ulan Bator itself, halfway around the world and oblivious to events in Scurveyshire, has reeled in shocked disbelief. It’s only the surviving Lake Smelts. I almost forgot to mention that their Number Two veeble, Penny Subhoshmakov, has also come to an untimely end, having tripped over Lady Margo’s upholstered wooden leg while skating at some 60 mph.”

Meanwhile, to the horror of her crusty old butler, Crusty, Lady Margo has begun to crawl out onto the rink in an attempt to recover her upholstered wooden leg. This is just as the captain of the Lake Smelts, Miss Cindy Spatzinagatai, raises her several brawny arms and vows vengeance on all of Scurveyshire.

With a chill cry reminiscent of the days of Genghis Khan, the enraged Lake Smelts swarm over the rail…

“‘Tis maith yon abblemart fusstick, m’lord,” observes Constable Chumley. One cannot but agree.

‘Roller Derby Apocalypse’ Continued (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing the second half of Chapter CDXIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular picks up where she left off after her neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, went to pieces in her living room.

“Dear reader,” she writes, “I think I’ve picked up all the bits of Mr. Pitfall and joined them back together. He looks a little crooked now, but he’s mostly all there again. And now turn we unto Scurveyshire’s roller derby showdown between the Ulan Bator Lake Smelts and the What’s-their-names from Plaguesby!”

With the entire population of the shire gathered around the roller derby rink, this was Tom the Pict’s chance to drive all the English and all the Scots out of Britain and restore it to the Picts, wherever they are. But alas! Tom the Pict has overslept.

His pet snail, Rupert, gestures with his antennae: “You’ve blown it, old sport–missed your chance. It’s too late now, the match has already started.” We are not at liberty to describe Tom’s reaction to this news.

Back at the rink, the Lake Smelts are making mincemeat of the Plaguesby squad. This does not go down well with the spectators. “I could shoot two or three of those Smelt gals,” offers the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. “No one will notice, with all this noise.” But as justice of the peace, Lord Jeremy Coldsore cannot countenance this tactic.

Lady Margo Cargo, overcome with excitement, removes her upholstered wooden leg to flourish it over her head as an encouragement to the Whatevers. But she loses her grip and her leg goes flying into the middle of the rink, causing a massive pileup of skaters and any number of horrific injuries.

“In the next chapter,” Ms. Crepuscular promises, “we shall see whether Lady Margo can get her leg back. It looks like this match is about to get ugly!

“And there’s Mr. Pitfall’s nose under the TV cabinet! Excuse me while I go and return it to him.”

Roller Derby Apocalypse (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CDXIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular confides in her readers, “Dear readers, I must confide in you! I approach this chapter with something closely akin to dread, fearful of what I might set loose upon the world.” We do not know what she’s talking about.

Here in Scurveyshire, the roller derby rink is just about ready for the Ulan Bator Lake Smelts to take on the Plaguesby Whatevers. This is part of the diabolical plot hatched by Tom the Pict. We join him as he confides in his pet snail, Rupert.

“Hah, my slimy little friend! Nyah-ha-ha! If our diabolical plot succeeds, we will drive all the English out of England, and the Scots out of Scotland, and the whole isle of Britain shall belong to the Picts!”

Rupert makes a gesture with his antennae that translates to, “But there aren’t enough Picts left to fill up a good-sized phone booth. You don’t even know any other Picts.” This observation moves Tom to a fit of sobbing.

Meanwhile, Johnno the Merry Minstrel has heard some disturbing things about Ulan Bator’s premier women’s roller derby team–

Time out! Urgent interjection by the author!

“Oh, my stars! Some addled ass from Iowa has written to ‘inform’ me–inform me!–that there was no such place as Ulan Bator in the Victorian Era. And you know the stupid letter had to fall under the gaze of Mr. Pitfall!” Ms. Crepuscular sighs. “What a tantrum ensued! The poor man just can’t stand to be reminded that Ulan Bator used to be called something else. He goes to pieces if you tell him that! And this time he did it right in the middle of my living room. Oh, fap!”

We leave her to pick up the pieces. The chapter will have to be finished some other time. Mr. Pitfall can regenerate himself if all the pieces can be found.

Roller Derby Comes to Scurveyshire! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

The Victorian Era-Skating Ice and Roller-Victorian Days -

Victorian roller derby

As every reader with nothing better to do will surely remember, Violet Crepuscular has left her readers wondering whether there are Picts hiding out in Scurveyshire and planning to use the ancient Pictish sport of roller derby to expel all the English out of England.

Introducing Chapter CDXI of her immortal epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Ms. Crepuscular addresses her readers thus: “Dear readers, I hope you don’t mind if I address you thus. It has become necessary for me to introduce a new character into the story: the plot cannot be carried forward without it. Without further ado, meet… Tom the Pict!”

Yes, alas, there is a Pict lurking among the gibbering masses of Scurveyshire. “You may wonder,” adds Violet, “what one measly Pict–” not a figure of speech: he really does have measles–“can do to evict the English from England. Please continue reading!”

Tom’s idea is to strike while everyone is attending the roller derby match between Plaguesby and Ulan Bator. Please don’t bother to write to Ms. Crepuscular to point out to her that Ulan Bator was certainly not called “Ulan Bator” during the Victorian Era. Her neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, flies into a rage whenever this topic is brought up.

Tom the Pict, the story continues, has successfully disguised himself as a normal person, and the measles deter anyone from getting too close. He only speaks Pictish when he talks to himself or to his pet snail, Rupert.

And everyone, but everyone, is going to be at that roller derby rink!

A Completely Unnecessary Flashback (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Oy Rodney – Lee Duigon

Introducing Chapter CDX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Dear reader, in order to fully understand Chapter CDX of my epic romance, Oy, Rodney, it is necessary for us to go back in time some fifteen hundred years. This is what we writers call a flashback. Because we’re flashing back.”

What she’s leading up to is a discourse on the Picts, “the original inhabitants of Britain, who came to this happy isle, this seat of kings, from the Solomon Islands. To this day,” she babbles, “the trained ear can detect no difference between Pictish and Solomon Islandese. They also play several of the same board games.”

What does this have to do with anything? Oh, come now–you don’t think Ms. Crepuscular would ever leave us stranded in a non sequitur, do you?

She does point out that the Picts were responsible for people in ancient Britain getting rid of their trousers and wearing kilts instead. “It is because the Picts were invertebrate thieves,” she writes. I am not sure about that word “invertebrate.” Something’s wrong with it. “Many a Roman, reaching into his pocket for a denarius, to his dismay found all his pockets empty. This happened to so many people that they started referring to their empty pockets as ‘Pict Pockets.’ Later this referred to picked pockets of Pictish populations isolated in northern Britain and West Virginia.”

You learn something new every day.

“Getting to my point,” Violet promises, “as every schoolgirl knows, roller derby was the national pastime of the Picts and their gift to the world at large. And roller derby is coming to Scurveyshire! And what, dear reader, would happen if there were picked Picts secretly hiding out on Scurveyshire, waiting for the opportunity to cast all the foreigners out of Britain? And using roller derby to do it!”

But we will have to wait for another chapter to learn the answer to that question.

Roller Derby Comes to Scurveyshire

Oy Rodney – Lee Duigon

Who has time to worry about medieval curses when roller derby is coming to your town?

In Chapter CDIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, the populace of Scurveyshire has worked feverishly to set up a roller derby rink on the village common, where the Plaguesby Headhunters will take on the Vichy Poisoners, France’s number one roller derby squad, in a match that promises to be an all-out war.

Meanwhile, the ancient curse, activated by Lady Margo Cargo when she dug up a prehistoric plate with an inscription which she has wrongly interpreted as a recipe for Store Brand Corn Flakes, has been taking its toll: a hangnail here, a dislocated coccyx there, a bad set of involuntary ear-wiggling somewhere else.

But Lord Jeremy Coldsore is otherwise occupied, re-wooing Lady Margo and trying to get their upcoming marriage back on track.

“I can’t help having second thoughts,” says Lady Margo. “You’ve been acting very queer lately, when you’re Willis Twombley. Threatening to shoot me–what kind of fiance does that?”

Ms. Crepuscular intervenes. In an aside to her audience, she writes, “I have a letter from a reader in Palookastan, Mrs. Amy Tanystropheus, who asks, ‘Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Lord Jeremy to have explained to Lady Margo, months and months ago, that he and Mr. Twombley are not the same person? Wouldn’t that have eliminated all this confusion?’

“Well, Amy,” Violet replies, “I’m afraid that ship has sailed! It’s much too late now to clear up that matter. Lady Margo is entirely convinced that Jeremy and Willis are one person, albeit with two totally different personalities. And did I mention that multiple personalities are kind of a tradition in Lady Margo’s family? Her father, Lord Largo Cargo, had four personalities, none of which was functional.

“But even matters of the heart must take a back seat to roller derby!”

Ah! But will the curse adversely affect the roller derby match?

Stay tuned!

What is Roller Derby - Minnesota Roller Derby

Victorian roller derby uniforms were much less revealing than these.

Another Curse on Scurveyshire! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CDVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Nothing happened in the preceding three chapters, so I have left them out. If you want them, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope and a check for $340.99.”

And so, in Chapter CDVIII, with Lady Margo Cargo still under the impression that the plate of ancient runes she found with her metal detector is a prehistoric recipe for Store Brand Corn Flakes, and trying to make them in her lavishly-appointed kitchen, we have an entirely different translation by Johnno the Merry Minstrel–one which reveals that a terrible curse will fall on all of Scurveyshire if anyone digs up the plate and removes it from the ground.

The very day that Lady Margo brought the plate home, a man named Scupper twisted his ankle trying to roller-skate down the sloping roof of his cottage.

“It begins!” says Johnno.

Meanwhile the corn flakes are not going at all well, which is only to be expected, given that Lady Margo’s translation is 100 percent wrong.

“Some of these ingredients seem altogether ridiculous,” she complains to her crusty old butler, Crusty. “Earth from the grave of of a shogun, for instance–they don’t have it in the store! I don’t think we’ve ever had a shogun in Scurveyshire.”

“When I was a boy,” says Crusty, “we had a neighbor who said he was a shogun. He could never find a job.”

Johnno warns Lord Jeremy Coldsore that everyone in Scurveyshire is now at risk. Lord Jeremy feels somewhat put-upon. “What am I supposed to do about it?” he cries. Johnno’s eloquent shrug is worth a thousand words (“None of them printable!” Violet adds).

Here we break the chapter because of exciting news.

“Roller derby is coming to Scurveyshire!” Ms Crepuscular exults. What with television not having been invented yet, it’s truly a red-letter day.


Memory Lane: Roller Derby

I am aware that roller derby still exists; that indeed it has staged a sort of comeback worldwide, albeit mostly at an amateur level.

Roller Derby and TV grew up together. The first roller derby broadcast was in 1948. It blossomed into a huge hit and a cultural phenomenon. This is hard to explain. The clip will give you some idea of the sublime awfulness of 1950s roller derby. I think the hook was the display of “un-ladylike behavior” at a time when women were expected to be “ladies.” Please don’t ask me to define those terms. I’m just sayin’ I think the contrast was a big selling point for roller derby.

At a friend’s house, his mother and aunt watched roller derby every chance they got, well into the Sixties (even though it had already faded severely and was going quickly out of style). No matter how many times I was exposed to it, the rules of roller derby remained a mystery to me; nor was I ever able to perceive the object of the game. It just looked like a lot of bodies flying around, plus some fisticuffs.

TV survived, but roller derby shrank almost into oblivion–I think because oafish, churlish behavior has become practically an expectation for both men and women. Roller derby can’t compete with an Antifa riot.

For ugliness to have any value, there has to be beauty present, too.