The Future of ‘Oy, Rodney’

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I don’t know about you, but I need a break from the nooze. That last post had me talking to myself. And besides, there’s another very important matter that needs seeing to.

For the past 16 years (well, it feels like 16 years, I haven’t got the energy to go back and check) I have been presenting chapters of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney. I have ignored critics who say Ms. Crepuscular should be confined at the Chateau D’If and her manuscripts burned. Besides, I’d feel kind of silly if she won the Pulitzer Prize just days after I discontinued her.

Anyhow, there’s a very sharp division of opinion and people are gearing up as Roman soldiers and fighting over it. Just like in the picture. Somebody’s gonna get hurt if this continues.

So far Ms. Crepuscular has written 399 chapters and has yet to get to the point. It seems, well, heartless to cut her off after all that. And I would not like to encounter her number one fan, Mr. Pitfall, on a dark night. Not with my knee as dodgy as it is.

One consideration here, at least to me, is to celebrate a novelist who has established herself as a master of saying nothing. I think I would like to do a crossword puzzle now.


Scurveyshire Overrun by Monsters! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Is it possible that Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, is crashing to an end? And after only 398 chapters, no less!

Introducing Chapter CCCXCIX–and we are unsure whether she will finish it–Ms. Crepuscular admits that Scurveyshire is now overrun with hideous, horrible monsters and if everybody gets eaten–or absorbed by giant amoebas–there won’t be anything to write about.

“Well, dear reader, I promised you nonstop action and well-nigh unendurable suspense!” she writes. “It is as if I were writing in letters of fire!” We will not go that far.

The latest casualty for Scurveyshire is the bearded barmaid at The Lying Tart, lassoed and devoured by a micro-organism grown to the size of a stagecoach when she goes outside to water down a keg of ale. A nearby pond has always served that purpose.

At his wits’ end, Lord Jeremy Coldsore appeals directly to Ms. Crepuscular.

“You wrote us into this mess,” he cries, “and now you’d jolly well better write us out of it!” This is what comes of fooling around with magical camping lanterns bought on eBay. It could be worse. They had a dybbuk box for sale, too. As one prospective buyer noted, “I want the paranormal in my home!” He should move to Scurveyshire.

“If I end the chapter here,” soliloquizes Ms. Crepuscular, “would that count as finishing the chapter–and would it break the spell?” Is she asking me? You? I mean, how should any of us know?

“Here ends Chapter CCCXCIX!” she proclaims, writing in letters of ink.

We’ll have to wait till next week to see if it works.

The Incantation That Messes Up Everything (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCCXCVIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “I am not sure whether to thank a reader named Phoebe for suggesting that Constable Chumley inadvertently speaks the correct incantation for activating the awesome magical powers of this lantern that I paid good money for. It was supposed to ensure my winning of the Pulitzer Prize! But because Chumley spoke it in the context of the novel, and I wrote it down, it has taken effect in the context of the novel (!) instead of in my living room. Which means I’m now writing things I never had any intention to write!”

We find this difficult to understand.

Thanks to the constable, Scurveyshire has now been overrun by indescribable monstrous creatures emerging from under the vicar’s backyard wading pool. They wander the streets by night, piercing the silence with hideous whistling, insane piping, and thunderous roars.Those who’ve actually seen them have all gone raving mad. Ordinary life has come to a standstill.

“I could have warned you this would happen,” intones Ronno the Not At All Merry Minstrel, currently confined in gaol along with the Wise Woman of the Scurveyshire gaol. Ronno was arrested by the constable for getting off the train from Siberia. It seems there was a local ordinance against it, enacted in 1675.

“Well, then what do we do to make it stop?” cries Lord Jeremy Coldsore, who is being blamed for the whole thing.

“We need to establish a profitable cod fishery,” says Ronno.

“Pshaw!” snorts Lord Jeremy. “We’re 150 miles inland–how are we supposed to fish for cod?”

Ronno admits he doesn’t know. As the morale officer of a Siberian prison, the matter of a cod fishery never came up.

Meanwhile, readers have complained that Ms. Crepuscular has not kept her promise to provide nonstop action and well-nigh unbearable suspense in this particular chapter. I am not in a position to help her: my cats are misbehaving.

And the magical lantern’s batteries have conked out, on top of all that.


Violet Crepuscular’s Pulitzer Prize

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Editor’s Note: We are unable to post our usual Oy, Rodney cover today. This vintage Masonori Murakami baseball card is the closest we can come to it.

We find Violet Crepuscular–author of the epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney–feverishly rubbing a battery-powered camping lantern.

“I would not have it said that I am in any way superstitious,” she writes, “but I found this magic lamp for sale on eBay. All you have to do is rub it feverishly while reciting the correct incantation, and a genie will come out and grant your wish. But I’m having trouble with the incantation–Ia, Cthulhu! Ugthn mgawlwha fhtagn, Cthulu fhtagn! Or something like that–one of those crazy languages they speak in foreign countries, I don’t know how they can even hope to understand each other. But now that my neighbor Mr. Pitfall has nominated me for a Pulitzer Prize, I think I’ll need a genie’s help to seal the deal. It’s just that this incantation is devilish hard to pronounce! And I had two years of Latin in high school, too!”

Meanwhile, in Chapter CCCXCVII of her epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney, Ms. Crepuscular, who seems to have entirely lost her train of thought, has introduced a new character–Johnno the Merry Minstrel’s cousin, Ronno the Not At All Merry Minstrel. Ronno has just returned from spending twelve years as morale officer at a Siberian prison.

As soon as he steps off the train, Constable Chumley arrests him.

“Why in the world did you do that?” cries Johnno. “He only just got off the train!”

“Ay, liddie, but aw’ yon frythers macks a Whithle scray,” the constable explains. Johnno has to be content with that.

“In the next chapter,” promises Ms. Crepuscular, “the reader will be treated to non-stop action and well-nigh unendurable suspense!”

We can hardly wait.

Serfdom Lives! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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“Scurveyshire,” writes Violet Crepuscular, introducing Chapter CCCXCVI (Chapter CCCXCV was nixed by the censors) of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, “is one of the few places in England where serfdom survives to the present day. What with all the excitement of the plague, Wars of the Roses, Civil War, Spanish Armada, Napoleon, etc., etc., no one ever got around to abolishing serfdom in Scurveyshire.”

Things in Scurveyshire are trying to get back to normal, now that the reddle craze has passed and Olaf Skraeling has been sucked under the vicar’s backyard wading pool.

But it seems the serfs are getting restless.

Back in Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s father’s time–this lord’s name has escaped posterity, and was last seen slumming in Perth Amboy, NJ–the shire addressed the grievances of the serfs by setting up a Serf Board. It even has its own theme song: “Let’s Go Serfing Now!” Today tourists come from California to experience Scurveyshire’s inland serfing. But in Chapter CCCXCVI’s time, the Serf Board has bigger fish to fry.

For the serfs have organized under the charismatic leadership of Bennett Serf; and according to Johnno the Merry Minstrel, they are plotting a full-scale insurrection.

“Do you know that for a fact?” demands Lord Jeremy. “Must we muster the Mustards to put down the rebellion?” The Mustards are Scurveyshire’s aging and somnolent mounted militia, currently out of mounts but still a force to be reckoned with, if reckoning is your thing.

“They’re always plotting,” explains Johnno. “Ever since the Serf Board ruled you have to give them one holiday a year whether they need it or not, they’ve been plotting to take over the shire.”

“Couldn’t we just promote them to peons?” cries Lord Jeremy. “Or even peasants? They’d like being peasants.”

Johnno checks to make sure no one is near enough to overhear them, or read lips, lowers his voice, and declares, “My Lord, I think we are about to confront another scheme by that pernicious medieval sorcerer, Black Rodney!”

Here the chapter breaks off without a word of explanation. It is almost as if Ms. Crepuscular has heard the Good Humor man’s bells come jangling down her street and burst outside to buy a creamsicle.

The ‘Oy, Rodney’ Cover

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Ms. Violet Crepuscular has taken time out from grinding out chapters of her epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney, to say a few words about that Lord of the Tube Socks cover that she’s been using for… well, years now.

“I chose it originally, dear reader, because the couple featured on the cover were an exact match for how I imagine my two principal characters, Lord Jeremy Coldsore and Lady Margo Cargo,” Violet writes. “Some readers have complained. Tish-tush to them! There are only a few trifling differences between my characters and the cover picture.

“For one thing, Lord Jeremy now has two left feet. This militates against his agility as a ballroom dancer. Other than that, the picture is an exact duplicate.

“The real Lady Margo, it must be admitted, is some thirty years older than the lass on the book cover–with an upholstered wooden leg, a glass eye, and a wig that sometimes is hard to keep straight. She is also missing the hand that was chewed off by a goat, years ago. But aside from these petty details, the cover character looks just like her, pretty much.”

At this point she is interrupted: Dr. Fantod, the life-coaching jumping spider from Rotnest Island, has absent-mindedly wandered into Oy Rodney, intending to provide good advice to whoever needs it. Violet is terrified of spiders and can’t control herself, and Dr. Fantod is lucky to escape uninjured as she flails at him wildly with a rolled-up newspaper. We are not told which newspaper.

Ms Crepuscular objects. “I will not have spiders creeping into my novel from some wretched little island in Australia!” she writes. But it appears she has altogether lost her train of thought. This is a grievous loss to her readers.

Mr. Skraeling’s Comeuppance (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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[Editor’s Note: I had a thought in the middle of the night. It struck me that I have created several repeating characters for this blog–Byron the Quokka and Dr. Fantod, the life-coaching spider; Joe Collidge; and the whole crowd that inhabits Scurveyshire. What if I were to put them all into one novel? What kind of book would that be?]

Introducing Chapter CCCXCIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular has suddenly realized that Scurveyshire’s current craze for reddling–reddle-ing?–has gotten out of hand. “Dear reader,” she writes, “it appears that Scurveyshire’s current craze for reddling has gotten completely out of hand. Finding myself unable to deal with it artistically, I have decided to bring it to an end.”

It won’t be easy. Olaf Skraeling, posing as a reddleman in a bid to win the hand of Scurveyshire’s rich widow, Lady Margo Cargo, has created a demand that he cannot fulfill. For one thing, he’s out of reddle and doesn’t know where to get more. For another, Lady Margo blames him for her glass eye falling out while playing hopscotch. “Here’s where it gets tricky,” Ms. Crepuscular warns the reader.

You guessed it–one step too close to the fateful wading pool in the vicar’s back yard, and Mr. Skraeling, reddled clothes and all, gets sucked right under! Shloopf! That fatal sound is the last thing Olaf hears.

“Who’s going to pay for my glass eye?” demands Lady Margo. “I thought it was so romantic, the way he reddled my upholstered wooden leg–and now he’s gone!”

Constable Chumley has already stepped in to take care of Mr. Skraeling’s menagerie of chameleons, which creates a suspicion that he somehow maneuvered Olaf into the wading pool’s clutches. The constable refutes the charge: “A’ niffer blayed yon burzey wout a mair windring!” he declares.

Ms. Crepuscular goes on to object strenuously to any proposal to blend marsupials or daft college students into her romance. “It would ruin the whole thing!” she exclaims passionately.

Scurveyshire’s Reddle Craze

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Introducing Chapter CCCXCIII (Chapter CCCXCII seemed to be missing) of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Olaf Skraeling’s diabolical plan to win the hand of Lady Margo Cargo by disguising himself as a reddleman has worked too well! All of Scurveyshire has gone absolutely mad for reddle-ing (or should it be ‘reddling’?), and he suddenly has so much business that he has no time to woo the rich widow!”

She takes the opportunity to soliloquize about the pitfalls of crime, adding certain lewd comments about her neighbor, Mr. Pitfall. We will spare the reader. Feel free to tear out those two dozen pages.

Suddenly everyone in Scurveyshire wants everything reddled–doors and windows, dogs, children, tools, underclothes… “They’ve all gone mad!” cries Lord Jeremy Coldsore. They have even reddled the bearded barmaid at The Lying Tart. Desperate to curb the craze, Lord Jeremy summons Constable Chumley and orders him to arrest the reddleman.

“Withy me aw’ yon firthin mizzle, m’lord,” demurs the constable. His keen police instincts aroused, he already knows the reddleman is none other than Mr. Skraeling, and therefor that worst of all malefactors–a fraudulent reddleman.

“Just do it!” sighs Lord Jeremy.

As for Lady Margo, now that her upholstered wooden leg has been duly reddled, she has attempted to play hop-scotch with some of the reddled children. Hopping awkwardly from one box to the next, her glass eye falls out and shatters on the slate. The children, horrified, run away screaming.

“I must now interject my recipe for cat-food turnovers with a dab of toothpaste on the crust,” Violet interjects. It plays hob with the novel’s continuity.

Enter the Reddle Man! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Well, she did warn us that Olaf Skraeling is an unsuccessful forger. His forged letter to Lady Margo Cargo, intended to break up her impending marriage (it’s been impending for a long time!) to Lord Jeremy Coldsore has been exposed as a fraud–by a seven-year-old child, no less!

But you can’t keep a bad man down: such is the message of Chapter CCCXCI of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney.

With his letter to Lady Margo exposed as yet another clumsy forgery, Mr. Skraeling has gone undercover, disguised as a reddle man.

“I know, dear readers,” writes Violet, “that the only way most of you will know what a reddle man is is if you had to read The Return of the Native in high school and for some reason remember it. I thought it was going to be a Tarzan book, myself. But it does feature a character who is by trade a reddle man!” She goes on and on without remembering to tell us what a reddle man is. My best guess is that it’s a man who reddles.

In this diabolically clever disguise, alleged Welshman Olaf Skraeling sets about wooing Lady Margo and stealing her affections. His first step is to offer to reddle her upholstered wooden leg. “No one in London, Milady, would be caught dead with a wooden leg that isn’t reddled!” he declares. “I can do it for you in a single day–as a tribute to your beauty.” Lady Margo, I regret to say, is a sucker for that kind of talk.

“What can I do?” wails Lord Jeremy. “How can I compete with anything so exotic as a reddle man?”

“Chin up, Germy!” says his boon companion, the American adventurer Willis Twombley. Lady Margo still thinks he and Lord Jeremy are the same person. “Why, even a blind man could see that that there reddle man isn’t the real McCoy, but only that varmint Skraeling in disguise. You better let me shoot him. We can dump the body under the vicar’s backyard wading pool.”

“And have Scotland Yard detectives back here quicker than boiled asparagus?” cries Jeremy. “No thanks! No, old chap, we need a plan more subtle than that. We have to expose the reddle man as a fake. Now then, how do we do that?”

“In the next chapter,” Violet promises her readers, “I’ll explain exactly how to go about exposing a fraudulent reddle man. I am sure some of you will find it useful!”

Mr. Skraeling’s Revenge (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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You would think, with the curse of the Bug-Men lifted and nothing left to do but round up the sated chameleons who feasted on the Bug-Men until none were left in Scurveyshire, that all was well and nothing remains but to get Lord Jeremy Coldsore and Lady Margo Cargo married. If only life were that simple.

For Olaf Skraeling, the owner of all those chameleons, double-crossed in his plan to marry Lady Margo himself, has vowed revenge. Introducing Chapter CCCXC (the Roman numerals are getting tricky) of her interminable–sorry, I mean “epic”!–romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Olaf Skraeling is a Welshman, dear readers, and all Welshmen are able to do black magic–or at least know someone else who can. Scurveyshire knows Mr. Skraeling as an impoverished and unsuccessful forger, but he is much more than that! He is also a master of deceit.”

On this ominous note, we join Mr. Skraeling as he forges a letter to Lady Margo that’s supposed to be from Lord Jeremy. It reads thus:

“Dear Lady Margo Cargo, Its me Lord Jerramy and this is to tell you that i dont whish to marry you anymore! So you better marry Mr. Olaff Skraeling insted, he is a very nice man! Yours truely Lord Jerramy Coldsore (not a nice man!).”

The crusty old butler, Crusty, hands the letter to Lady Margo on a silver platter.

Upon reading it, she sighs, “How romantic!”

“Eh?” marvels Crusty. “Why, the man’s a total blackguard! You should sue him for breach of promise.”

“You have no romance in your soul, Crusty!”

“And you’re a daft old trout,” rejoins the butler.

“I wonder what’s happened to Jeremy’s handwriting,” Lady Margo muses. “It’s totally changed, I’d never think it was his, except he’s signed it, hasn’t he? Even his signature is totally different.”

“I’m sure he was drunk when he wrote it,” says Crusty.

Ms. Crepuscular closes the chapter: “Will this devious ploy succeed? Will Olaf Skraeling win the hand of the richest widow in Scurveyshire? Will he resort to black magic? The next chapter will tell all!”

Promises, promises…