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.