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.

 

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.

 

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.

Quokkas Protest!

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G’day–or not! Byron the Quokka here, from Quokka University on Rotnest Island.

At an emergency meeting today of the entire faculty, we have voted unanimously to lodge the strongest possible protest to a scheme to include us in some flimgop novel with Joe Collidge and all those nincompoops in Scurveyshire. Plus toothpaste recipes by Violet Crepuscular! Crikey! Does it get more undignified than that?

Our protest has been written down on 100% recycled paper! The unimportance of that cannot be overstated. How would you like having to listen to Constable Chumley try to teach Joe Collidge the history of England? Well, mate, not at our university you don’t! We’re almost ready to start our first semester, and we don’t need that.

Here at QU, we uphold the highest standards of literature–or will, once we find out what they are.

 

 

The Vicar’s New Delusion (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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In Chapter CCCLXXVIII (don’t you just love those Roman numerals? imagine having to use them to do trigonometry) of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular reveals a revelation.

The vicar has emerged from his conniptions with a new delusion. He now believes himself to be Wally Moon, a 20th century American baseball player who is still many years from being born.

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“I cannot overstate the importance of this!” Ms. Crepuscular remarks in an aside to the reader. “I make this remark in an aside to you, dear reader, because I wish to stress the importance of the name ‘Moon.’ Why the Moon? Why not Mars, or Jupiter, or some other heavenly body? But you will excuse me while I dash into the kitchen to check on my toothpaste tarts.” The next two pages are left blank to represent her absence.

The vicar is confused because he has never heard of baseball; consequently, he does not know what to do. But he does know what he cannot do.

“I am sorry, Lady Margo,” he tells her, “but you are much mistaken in believing me to be your vicar. In identifying myself as Wally Moon, whoever he is, I cannot perform your marriage ceremony.”

He would say more, but at this point Constable Chumley arrests him for impersonating an unborn foreign athlete. Scurveyshire has an ordinance against that, going back to the 13th century. “A’ blithely mack yon frisky glames,” he explains.

With the two Scotland Yard detectives trying to frame each other for the disappearance of the locomotive under the vicar’s backyard wading pool, Lord Jeremy Coldsore feels he can now safely climb down from the tall tree in which he has taken refuge. Imagine his distress when he discovers that he can’t.

“Jist come down the way you went up, ol’ hoss,” advises his bosom friend, the American adventurer Willis Twombley. Here Ms. Crepuscular intervenes again.

“I do not mean to imply that Lord Jeremy has anything that we might properly refer to as a bosom,” she writes. And then: “Oh, no! My tarts are burning!” She rushes off to the kitchen again, leaving the rest of the chapter to the readers’ imaginations.

Enter Sergeant Dottle (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CCCLXXVI of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular introduces a new character, courtesy of Scotland Yard–Detective Sergeant Elrond Dottle. His presence is necessary because Detective Chief Inspector Chipper Magog, instead of solving the mystery of the stolen locomotive, has fallen passionately in love with a bearded bar maid at The Lying Tart and his let his work slide.

Sgt. Dottle wants DCI Magog’s job and will do anything to get it. Usually what he tries to do is to pin on the DCI whatever crime they happen to be investigating at the time. Sgt. Dottle is an inveterate Clue player, which makes him (compared to some) a formidable detective. DCI Magog despises him and usually tries to frame him for whatever crime they happen to be investigating at the time. Their interpersonal dynamics are the talk of Scotland Yard.

With Lord Jeremy Coldsore refusing to come down from the tree that he has climbed, and taking all his meals up there, Johnno the Merry Minstrel has made an astonishing discovery .

“I say, m’lord!” he shouts from the ground beneath the tree. “It turns out that Black Rodney is not the only medieval sorcerer who’s bedeviling us. There’s another one!”

“Just get rid of that inspector, there’s a good chap!” answers Lord Jeremy from high up the tree. He has heard that DCI Magog plans to interrogate him under torture.

“But m’lord, it’s not just Black Rodney!” cries Johnno. “We have also fallen under a curse by Black Rodney’s long-time competitor, Blue Bodney! And he’s even worse!”

“Oh, bother!” mutters Jeremy.

Here Ms. Crepuscular breaks in with a recipe for toothpaste brownies. “I generally use Pepsodent Super-Whitener for these,” she writes, “but Colgate Xtra-Strength will do as well. I will send a batch to the Pulitzer committee!”

That’s cheating. I think.

Scotland Yard Investigates (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Somewhere along the plot line, a runaway locomotive was sucked under the wading pool in the vicar’s back yard. It has proved quite difficult to get author Violet Crepuscular to remember this incident, which I believe is pivotal to an understanding of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. But she returns to it in Chapter CCCLXXV.

All of Scurveyshire is agog (don’t you love that word?) over the arrival of Detective Chief Inspector Frank “Chipper” Magog of Scotland Yard, to investigate the disappearance of the locomotive. After a confidential consultation with Constable Chumley, D.C.I. Magog concludes that Lord Jeremy Coldsore has stolen it.

“What did you tell him that for?” demands Lord Jeremy. “I didn’t steal any perishin’ locomotive!”

The constable shrugs eloquently. “Tis a feerthy croop, m’lord!” he exclaims. “I nippher graned a switter yam,” he adds. (“I was going to say ‘resignedly’,” Violet confides to the reader, “but I decided it made the whole thing sound too much like a Tom Swift episode.”) We are at liberty to wonder just what the inspector thought the constable had told him.

“Chipper” earned his nickname by his willingness to use torture to extract witness testimony, which is why Lord Jeremy has climbed the tallest tree on his estate and refuses to come down. Magog decides to wend his way to The Lying Tart and interrogate the bearded barmaid. We can leave him to it.

“As you can see by this chapter,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, “I do not forget important elements of my story! This is a vile canard put out by those mean-spirited scribblers who are competing with me for a Pulitzer.”

Children’s Letters to Ms. Violet

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Due to circumstances entirely beyond our control, we were unable to present our weekly update of Violent Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney. Ms. Crepuscular has contacted us and rebuked us with what she has described as “an avalanche of an outpouring of support from the children of the world.” We did not know children were reading Oy, Rodney.

Here are three quotes from three letters. They are intended to make me feel guilty.

From Daisy Hokus, Brzwirdzjeczow, Eastern Europe: “My daddy is sad all the time, but when he reads Oy Rodney he is happy and runs all over the house singing and dancing. You must write more Oy Rodney to make him happy. I am 3 years old.”

From Randy Pokus, Ongs Hat, New Jersey: “Our teacher Ms. Typhus yells at us all the time and makes us scared only when she reads Oy Roddny by Vilet Crepustular she doesn’t yell at us anymore she just giggles!”

From Hector Vechter, Harpoon Harbor, Alaska: “Our family is very poor and when winter comes we have to sleep outside because nobody likes us but when we have some Oy Rodney to read it is better than food, better than warm clothes, so you can just imagine how deprived we felt when we didn’t get any.”

There is, says Ms. Crepuscular, “a whole wheelbarrowful of these letters” and I had better just watch out or the world’s children will be coming after me with pitchforks and torches.

Meanwhile, the literary agent who first discovered her has been put to death by the literary agents’ guild.

The Whole Thing Freaks Out (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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This is not Coldsore Hall, but it will have to do.

You will have noticed that there is no picture here. Ms. Crepuscular’s computer doesn’t work either. It must be related to mine.

Anyhow, introducing Chapter CCCLXVII–no, I have no idea what happened to Chapter CCCLXVI–of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular seems to be as confused as I am.

“What a mess those literary critics made of my front yard!” she writes. “I was all day picking up the stones and brickbats. But if they think they can stop me from producing the rest of my epic romance–well, fap! to them. Literature marches on!”

The chapter opens with Sir Robin Banks, the aristocratic thief, back on his feet in the middle of his hideout in an unused wing of Coldsore Hall. How did he get out of the cedar chest, after he’d locked himself in? “I am not going to write Chapter CCCLXVI all over again,” Ms. Crepuscular declares. “Suffice it to say there was a side missing from the chest. The fifth Earl Coldsore, Lord Pratt, acquired this chest from a shady antiques dealer in Cyprus when he went on the Third Crusade and brought it back to Scurveyshire with him when Richard the Lionheart kicked him out of the army for persistent cowardice. Lord Pratt carried the massive chest all the way across medieval Europe–only to discover, upon his return after an incredibly hazardous Channel crossing, that he had somehow lost one of the chest’s four sides. As a consequence, his health deteriorated. His last act was to stow the chest away in that room that no one ever used.”

Reader Thelma Potstock of Double Trouble, New Jersey, wants to know what Sir Robin has been eating, all this time he’s been hiding out in Coldsore Hall. This is a detail which had never crossed Ms. Crepuscular’s mind.

“The room is stocked with provisions left over from the Third Crusade,” she explains.

That will have to do for now. There is some doubt as to whether this installment of the saga can be successfully posted.