Tag Archives: Scurveyshire

A Traveling Salesman Calls (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Now out on bail, Violet Crepuscular introduces Chapter CCCI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney:

“Dear readers, I am out of durance vile by virtue of my editor, who paid $900 bail just before the publisher fired him. The judge ate one of my toothpaste rolls and is not only still alive, but has also expressed doubt that I have poisoned anyone on purpose. This has enabled me to continue my novel in peace!”

In this chapter, a traveling salesman named Elston The Traveling Salesman, finding Scurveyshire added to his route, visits The Lying Tart. Mr. Elston sells paper cutlery. He used to sell ordinary steel cutlery, but found that to be unworthy of his talents as a salesman. He relishes the challenge of selling paper knives and forks. His wife and children are starving, but he is unaware of that.

Having stood a round of drinks, Mr. Elston proceeds to sell several sets of deluxe paper cutlery. The locals, meanwhile, bring him up to date on Scurveyshire’s current troubles. People are still rather miffed about all those peasants being sucked under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard.

“But this is absurd!” remarks the salesman. “Why, it would be the easiest thing in the world for all of you to get together and simply drag the pool away!”

This strikes most of the customers as a most irresponsible saying, probably motivated by an evil quirk in Mr. Elston’s character.

“That’s exactly the sort of thing a witch would say!” exclaims a jolly toper named Ernest Phinrod. In no time at all the entire company is convinced that Mr. Elston is a witch, in league with the spirit of the medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney. An impromptu taproom court immediately sentences Mr. Elston to death.

“You must not judge them too harshly,” Ms. Crepuscular admonishes her readers. “The good people of Scurveyshire do the best they can in spite of their massive ignorance. Most traveling salesmen do get out of Scurveyshire alive. Mr. Elston was merely one of the unfortunate few.”

As Scurveyshire’s Justice of the Peace, Lord Jeremy Coldsore is not informed of the incident until after it has been concluded.

“There’s likely to be a spot of trouble over this!” he muses fretfully.


‘Oy, Rodney’: the Footnotes

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In Chapter CLXII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic and spectacular romance, Oy, Rodney, we learn that Scurveyshire needs a new Member of Parliament. This is because the shire’s long-time, beloved representative, Sir Belisarius “Old Binky” Boggington, has been sucked under the vicar’s backyard wading pool, never to be seen again.

Wait! How did we miss that incident? It’s not mentioned in any of the four or five preceding chapters, where I searched for it in vain. But then I noticed a footnote.

“1. I was about to describe this horrifying event in great detail, in Chapter CLXI, when suddenly my smoke alarm went off. The noise was unbearable! I tried to turn it off but the wretched thing just wouldn’t stop. Finally I  called the Fire Dept., and they discovered some kind of insect egg-case inside the smoke detector, positioned in such a way as to force two wires together that should never touch each other. They also found that the cake I was baking in the oven was all but incinerated, but I’m sure that wasn’t what triggered the alarm. To make it worse, the fire chief gave me a right bollocking! I was so upset and humiliated, and distracted, that I forgot what I intended to write. My apologies to the reader; but it is the smoke detector’s fault, not mine.”

Below it was another footnote.

“2. If you are wondering why Constable Chumley, on guard near the pool, didn’t prevent Old Binky from getting too close to the death-trap, I can only say the constable had been distracted, too. I cannot remember how.”

And on the next page, another one.

“3. I realize it is not standard practice to include scholarly footnotes in a romance novel, but my hand is forced by certain persons who have alleged that my depiction of Scurveyshire in Queen Victoria’s time is absurd and unbelievable. They are much mistaken! For the genuine historical background, please consult A Narrative of Recent Events in Scurveyshire by Richard Bucket, A.B., C.D., V.C., O.B.E. etc., Chas. Gibbet and Sons, London: 1904.”

My hat’s off to anyone who can find that book.

As for the rest of Chapter CLXII, it is better left alone.


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