Tag Archives: silly romance novels

Unimaginable Peril (‘Oy, Rodney’)

See the source image

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’)

See the source image

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’)

See the source image

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.


Where Is Lady Margo? (‘Oy, Rodney’)

See the source image

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.


The Looming Curse (‘Oy, Rodney)

See the source image

Having been warned by the Wise Woman of the Woods to beware of a man with one buttock, Lord Jeremy has ordered Constable Chumley to find such a man and arrest him; but as we see in Chapter CCXL of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, this proves to be a rather difficult assignment.

“The constable’s already found four men with only one buttock,” reports Lord Jeremy’s friend, the American adventurer, Willis Twombley, “and one fellow in Farfield with none–and there’s a guy in Plaguesby who has three buttocks. Poor Chumley ain’t sure what he ought to do about it.”

“Well, arrest them all!” cries Lord Jeremy. “If a man with only one buttock shows up at our wedding to Lady Margo, it’ll put a curse on the marriage!”

“This thross’ll be yer flomin’ gragg,” mutters the constable, as he attempts to carry out his orders. He is concerned that the Scurveyshire jail is getting overcrowded.

To make a bad business worse, Lady Margo Cargo has begun to see this as a “reign of terror” launched by her prospective bridegroom. “I shouldn’t want our marriage to be remembered as a bad time for the shire, dear,” she says. “And, you know, it’s a funny thing about curses: the harder you try to avoid a curse, the more certain it is to overtake you.”

“That’s not funny!” growls Jeremy.

So now the jail is full to bursting, no room for the prisoners to sit down–not that the man with no buttocks can sit down, as we understand the act of sitting down–and the talk at The Lying Tart is beginning to turn nasty.

“Don’t worry about it, Germy,” Twombley consoles his friend. “We always had a whole lot of curses goin’ around in my Akkadian kingdom–” Twombley still thinks he is Sargon of Akkad–“and we learned to pay ’em no heed.”

“And that’s probably why there’s no more kingdom of Akkad,” growls Jeremy under his breath. He has never been married before, and the whole thing so far has been something of a disappointment.


The Annulment (‘Oy, Rodney’)

See the source image

“Now that the story makes sense,” writes Violet Crepuscular, introducing Chapter CCXXXV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, “we can proceed with the thorny business of annulling Lady Margo Cargo’s accidental marriage to Constable Chumley.” Meanwhile, her editor has failed to inform her that she has entirely skipped Chapter CCXXXIV. This omission will surely come back to haunt her.

The problem is not the constable, who has forgotten all about the marriage, but Lady Margo herself, who believes she is with child by the constable–which the doctor insists is medically impossible, the marriage never having been consummated. There is doubt that Chumley knows what “consummated” means.”I gae frather in a fairn!” he asserts.

Johnno the Merry Minstrel thinks he has the solution.

“That fool of an assistant justice of the peace, Master Roger Addlepate, my lord, who brainlessly performed the marriage, must be persuaded to un-perform it.”

“How is he to do that?” Lord Jeremy wonders. He needs to marry wealthy Lady Margo to save his ancestral home, Coldsore Hall, from a growing army of creditors.

“We must re-stage the ceremony,” Johnno explains, “and do the whole thing backwards. All the words must be spoken backwards, in reverse order from that in which they were originally spoken. So we start at ‘I do,’ which must be spoken as ‘do I,’ and work our way, backwards, all the way back to the beginning, when the A.J.P. will say, ‘God of sight the in together gathered are we.’ And then you declare the whole business undone and annulled!”

“Dontcha think that’ll be kinda complicated for the poor idjit who has to do it?” asks Lord Jeremy’s friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley. “Might be a far sight easier if I jist shoot him.”

“Let’s try the sane way first, old boy,” says Lord Jeremy. Happily, Lady Margo gives her consent to the procedure.

There is some trouble getting Chumley to participate, but a few tankards of rich brown ale do the trick. “He never said anything the first time out, anyhow,” Lord Jeremy remarks.

The backwards ceremony takes all day, owing to the participants getting confused about the word order, and Twombley suffers from an increasingly itchy trigger finger. Finally Addlepate is able to utter the words, ‘Wife wedded lawful your for woman this take do you?’, and the business is concluded. Imagine how much easier it would have been, had rewind buttons been invented in the 19th century.

Lady Margo jumps up and cheers, which causes her upholstered wooden leg to fall off. She doesn’t care. “I’m not with child by the constable anymore!” she exults. “Thank you, Johnno!” But Johnno already has his harmonica out, playing and singing (at the same time) “My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean.”

Ms. Crepuscular concludes with a gentle reminder that the movie rights to Oy, Rodney are still for sale.

 


The Chapter IV Do-Over (‘Oy, Rodney’)

See the source image

From Chapter CCXXXIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, we pass on to–Chapter IV? Hey! What gives?

“Looking back,” the author explains, “I am most unsatisfied with my earlier presentation of Chapter IV, and I beg the reader to disregard it. Cross out those 57 pages! Pretend I never wrote it, and you never read it! I am deeply ashamed of its unedifying content, and hereby replace it.”

The substitute Chapter IV takes us back to 1818, the year of Lord Jeremy Coldsore’s birth at Coldsore Hall and a rather bad year for Scurveyshire, what with a plague of locusts, a wave of inexplicable divorces, cattle behaving like tree frogs, and other afflictions. Jeremy’s father, Lord Weeping (how did she ever come up with a name like “Lord Weeping Coldsore?”), sends for the ancient crone who doubles as the shire’s one and only Wise Woman of the Woods.

“How are we to bring this endless series of troubles to an end?” Lord Weeping demands.

“I have given this a great deal of thought,” the Wise Woman replies, “and all the omens tell me there is only one way out: you, my lord, must leave your palatial ancestral home… to go a-whaling. Proceed to the nearest port and sign up for the next available whaling voyage. This will snap Scurveyshire’s run of bad luck.”

Settling his affairs unsatisfactorily, Lord Weeping bids farewell to his wife, Lady Francesca–she is the daughter of an Italian nobleman who is, in reality, a shoemaker–and sets out for the nearest port. Here he pays for the inattention he gave his tutor as a child, when he ought to have been learning his geography. Unaware that ports are commonly located on or near the sea, it takes him several years to make his way to Bristol. There he signs up as a harpooner on the jinxed whaling vessel, Jonah Jones, just before it sets sail for the whaling grounds off Greenland.  Within minutes of the ship leaving harbor, Scurveyshire returns to normal. But the Jonah Jones, having taken a wrong turn off the coast of Ceylon, is never seen again.

Lady Francesca leaves Jeremy to be raised by servants and traveling mountebanks and returns to her family in Italy somewhere.

“This is altogether better than my original Chapter IV,” concludes Mr. Crepuscular. “Now the book makes sense!”


Lady Margo, Mrs. Chumley (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Image result for images of silly romance novels

As we enter Chapter CCXXXIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, we find Lady Margo Cargo trying to adapt to her new role as the wife of Constable Chumley, to whom she was accidentally married two chapters ago. She has yet to discover the constable’s first name. So have we.

“This must be undone!” Lord Jeremy Coldsore declares. It had been his plan to marry Lady Margo, the richest widow in Scurveyshire, and so save his ancestral home, Coldsore Hall, from a growing legion of creditors.

“Germy, ol’ hoss, we’re runnin’ out of places to hide the bodies,” says Jeremy’s friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley. Twombley has been shooting creditors and hiding them around the hall and grounds. “If we don’t marry Lady Margo, we’re sunk.”

Meanwhile the constable goes about his duties and enjoys his evenings at The Lying Tart as if he weren’t married at all. It may be he has forgotten the incident. But then–

“I believe I’m with child by the constable,” Lady Margo confides in Twombley. “Dr. Fanabla says it’s all in my head, the marriage has not been consummated, and why don’t I just shut up about it–but I can’t!”

“Why don’t you jist get the marriage annulled?” asked Twombley. “I’m sure the vicar will be happy to do it for you.” He is not aware that the vicar has relapsed into more conniptions. “And if he can’t do it, Lord Germy can: he’s the justice of the peace, ain’t he?”

“But I gave my word to the constable!” cries Lady Margo.

Later, over enormous tankards of ale at the pub, Twombley tries to persuade the constable to disavow the marriage. “Mayhap the furthin be thwall a-beedle,” replies the constable. He has begun his  correspondence course in mole-ology and is preoccupied by it.

Lord Jeremy is almost frantic. “We’ve got to get that so-called marriage annulled by the next chapter at the latest! Or, as you said, old boy, we’re sunk!” He could, of course, declare the whole thing null and void, and have the assistant justice removed from his post and thrown in jail; but at the moment he is too upset to think clearly.

 


‘Oy, Rodney,’ the Missing Chapter

Image result for images of silly romance novels

“Something magical” was supposed to happen in Chapter CCXXIX of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, but for the time being she has noticed that she’d left Chapter CCXXVII unwritten, so she has gone back to that. “The only reason I can think of for having left Chapter CCXXVII unwritten,” she confides in the reader, “is that I was having trouble with my toilet flapper.”

In Chapter CCXXVII, Johnno the Merry Minstrel discovers the biggest cuss bag yet cunningly hidden in the Fourth Earl’s suit of armor, which he wore during the Wars of the Roses and then couldn’t get it off. The presence of the large cuss bag suggests that the earl’s skeleton is not, after all, still inside the armor. Which probably means that the ghost that occasionally appears, and likes to fill the upstairs bath tub with fried gloves, is not the Fourth Earl, as has been long believed.

The cuss bag contains cat hair and other detritus. “The other contents cannot be mentioned in polite society,” adds Ms. Crepuscular.

“It’s a good thing I’ve found this, my lord,” Johnno tells Lord Jeremy Coldsore, debt-ridden master of Coldsore Hall. “If I hadn’t, you would have had a fatal accident involving cat hairs. Only Black Rodney could have thought of that!”

“Well, how the deuce are we to be rid of him!” cries Jeremy. “What have I ever done to Black Rodney, that he should plague me with his sorceries?”

“I think he’s after Coldsore Hall, my lord,” says Johnno. “But let me soothe you with my rendition of ‘Down by the Old Mill Stream,'” which he sings while accompanying himself on the harmonica.

“I still expect something magical to happen in Chapter CCXXIX,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “but I can’t write it until I get this confounded flapper replaced.”

 


Crusty’s Lament (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Image result for images of silly romance novels

In Chapter CCXXVI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular has detoured into an examination of the life of Crusty, Lady Margo Cargo’s crusty butler.

Born Ignatius Mangrove Crusty in 1782, Crusty’s hard-up parents traded him for a chicken. His new master had a thing for frogs and taught Crusty to imitate their mating calls. Tiring of this, Crusty ran away to join the circus but wound up in butler school. He has been Lady Margo’s butler since 1808.

“That is all I wish to say about his life,” adds Ms. Crepuscular, and moves on to Chapter CCXXVIII, leaving Chapter CCXXVII unwritten.

We take up the thread of the story as Lord Jeremy Coldsore, now disadvantaged by having two left feet, hires an Austrian dancing master named Cliff to teach him how to waltz on two left feet: there’s sure to be a waltz danced at the wedding. Little does he know that Cliff is a fugitive wanted for masterminding the theft of several Prussians.

“You know virtually nothing about dancing!” declares Cliff. “Ach, will you please get your hips into it?” That he has to practice with Cliff is embarrassing. “On the count of three, both your feet must leave the floor, coming down again on the count of four. And then, on the count of one, your partner must jump–like so!” He springs a good ten inches into the air. How Lady Margo is to manage this on her upholstered wooden leg is more than Jeremy can imagine.

“It sure don’t look like no waltz to me,” mutters the American adventurer, Willis Twombley. “Looks like some kinda Egyptian polka to me.” To liven things up, he draws his six-gun and fires several bullets at the floor, occasioning more jumping from both dancers.

“That is not how we do it in Vienna!” Cliff complains.

The waltz lesson leaves Lord Jeremy bruised and exhausted.

“In the next chapter,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “something magical is sure to happen.” We can’t even guess what that might be.

 


%d bloggers like this: