Curing the Vicar’s Conniptions (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Ms. Crepuscular's Estonian Folk Tale ('Oy, Rodney') – Lee Duigon

At last! Chapter CDXLVIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, in which she reveals the funniest book ever written–here it is, calloo, callay, o frabjous day!

Ms. Crepuscular suspends the action so she can tell the reader, “This took an extraordinary among of research! At length it narrowed down to a choice between two books, both published in 1858: A Brief Narrative of My Captivity Among Dubious Presbyterians, or A Lady’s Bad Time and the much more famous work by the man known only as “Pumpkinhead,” Mopey Dick, or The Depressed White Whale. One of these, if read to the vicar, will cure his conniptions. The other will make them worse–much worse! Which one is right? Which one is the funniest book in the world?”

Her solution to the problem is simplicity itself. Resorting to the nearby Home For Persons With Conniptions, Ms. Crepuscular reads to the patients. Before anyone gets better or worse, the authorities drag her back outside by the ankles.

With even more simplicity, she flips a coin. Mopey Dick, all 962 pages of it, is to be read to the vicar. If it doesn’t work, he’s liable to scream, leap out of his bed and through the open window, and run around in his nightshirt until he’s sucked under the wading pool.

“It’s going to take a while to read this,” Violet crepusculates to her readers, “so tune in next week to see what happens! Heh-heh, they don’t call me The Mistress of Suspense for nothing!”

[Editor’s Note: I have read several chapters of Mopey Dick and I don’t think it’s funny at all. And Dubious Presbyterians is equally devoid of humor. A six-year-old telling Irish jokes would be more chuckle-inducing than these brainless tomes.]

So What Is the Funniest Book in the World? (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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I can hardly describe the fever pitch of anticipation  which gripted me all week, as I waited for Violet Crepuscular to unveil “the funniest book in the world.” They have to read it aloud to the vicar to cure his conniptions–but what could it be? Is it Baby Talk Made Simple? The suspense was killing me! Well, they don’t call Violet the Mistress of Suspense for nothing…

Imagine my disappointment, therefor, when I opened the email yesterday to read the latest from Ms. Crepuscular… and found…. this.

“I have hit upon a very nice dessert made with toothpaste and croutons,” she writes. “It’s a kind of pudding that cleans your teeth while you’re chewing the croutons that are in it. It does use up an awful lot of toothpaste, but what’s life without some luxury?”

So what’s the confounded funniest book in the world? (I’m warning you, Violet! Don’t you dare skip over it–“Now that they’ve read the funniest book in the world and cured the vicar’s conniptions…” We’re onto that trick–don’t even think of trying it again!)

In an aside to the reader, who is still waiting for Chapter CDXLVIII to begin, Ms. Crepuscular folasticizes, “Doubtless some of you are still waiting for Chapter CDXLVIII to begin, and eager to know just what is the funniest book in the world! Anyone can think of dozens of books it might be. I always thought Moby Dick was a scream. My neighbor, Mr. Pitfall, thinks it’s The Hand-Made’s Tail.

“So I will set aside the narrative–not on the back burner, that’s got my toothpaste pudding on it–for a week, to give you, the reader, the opportunity to say what you think is the funniest book in the world! Don’t bother to mention anything by Dean R. Koontz–he always cracks me up.”

 

A Thoroughly Shameful Literary Cheap Trick! (Oy, Rodney)

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Introducing Chapter CDXLVI of her epic romance novel, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular writes, “Now that the vicar’s conniptions are permanently cured, and Margo and Lord Jeremy safely married and gone off on their honeymoon to Keasby, New Jersey, and the invasion of Sicilian caecilians turned back, and the mystery of the vicar’s backyard wading pool solved to everyone’s complete satisfaction–”

Just a cotton-pickin’ minute there! Whoa, Nellie! Cease and desist!

I know what she’s trying to do. Note the absence of Chapter CDXLV. Presumably all these things happened in that chapter–and yet she’s skipped right over it! Readers will have her hide for this. “When in doubt, just skip it!” When did that become a literary maxim?

What if Homer had skipped Achilles’ showdown with Hector? What if Shakespeare had just passed over Julius Caesar’s last visit to the forum? Is this any way to write a novel? For shame!

Violet, the world expected better things from you. Personally, I had long since given up hope of seeing you blossom into a second Jacqueline Susann. But to show yourself a literary mountebank, a novelistic ninnie, a mere dental assistant disguised as Art personified–!

[Interrupted by emergency communication from Violet Crepuscular]

“Dear reader, I disclaim all knowledge of and responsibility for that chapter introduction purportedly written by me! I am not a literary mountebank! Believe me, I didn’t get where I am today by skating over major problems in my plot.

“I just thought a little streamlining might be in order…”

And so we are left with no current report on events in Scurveyshire because Somebody never wrote Chapter CDXLV. We simply do not know what happened after they tied that paper bag over the vicar’s head. The suspense is well-nigh unbearable.

Curing the Vicar’s Conniptions (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Lady Margo Cargo – Lee Duigon

Introducing Chapter CDXLIV of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular tackles the problem of the Vicar of Scurveyshire’s recurring conniptions.

“I am frequently asked to describe the vicar’s conniptions,” she writes, “but I have always held back from doing so because they’re such tacky conniptions! Dr. Fanabla has thrown up his hands in despair–and now he can’t bring them down again. People who see him on the street assume a robbery is in progress and throw up their hands, too. And now he finds it virtually impossible to put on his socks and tie his shoes.”

Constable Chumley interrupts his door-to-door search for legless amphibians to answer repeated summonses to stop a robbery on the High Street. The fact that there is no robbery never daunts him. “Fray nobbin to nobbin,” he explains, “sithen yon manny grue brach!” Many find his words reassuring. Some don’t.”

Meanwhile, the vicar’s new conniptions take on a form which will forever haunt all those who witness them. In desperation, Lady Margo Cargo suggests a folk remedy: tie a burlap bag over his head and sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” “It sometimes worked when our head house parlor maid had her conniptions,” she reverberates.

“We’ll have to wait for the next chapter to find out whether it works,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “That’s how I heighten the suspense!”

I fear that means she doesn’t know.

P.S.: Reader Doris Magnoon of Inchworm Township, Kuwait, objects to the use of Roman numbers as chapter heads. “We have been cheated out of the magical numeral, 444, which has massive therapeutic properties!” she complains. It is Ms. Crepuscular’s plan to ignore her.

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

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“Alas, dear reader!” soliloquizes Violet Crepuscular, introducing Chapter CDXLIII of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. “What have I done? Amid the clamor of a thousand squeaky toys, who can think straight?”

They can’t get rid of the squeaky toys. All Scurveyshire is enamored with them.

But the good news is, the constant din of squeaky toys has freed the vicar from his conniptions. For the first time in many months, he can get out of bed and spin around on tiptoe until he makes himself dizzy. He can go to his window and make grotesque faces at passers-by. And he can perform a wedding!

“Quick!” he orders his new housekeeper, Mrs. Stalin. “Go find Lord Jeremy and Lady Margo and bring them here so I can marry them!”

Mrs. Stalin wipes her mustache. “You can’t marry them,” she says. “It’d be bigamy.”

Ensues a long and mostly fruitless discussion of what the vicar actually meant. Mrs. Stalin wobbles out of the room. Ever since a mad masseuse made her right leg six inches longer than her left, she has wobbled. “Try it yourself,” adds Ms. Crepuscular, “and you’ll see.”

The bad news is that by the time Mrs. Stalin returns with the happy couple, the vicar has acquired a whole new set of conniptions. They have to tie him to a chair.

“What causes these?” cries Jeremy.

“I think it’s that Mr. Gesunt who sits in the third pew and smells funny,” expounds Mrs. Stalin.”Why don’t you have Constable Chumley arrest him?”

But Chumley is going door-to-door in search of legless amphibians called caecilians, not to be confused with Sicilians. He has only just stopped looking for caecilian footprints. He thinks he may have found some Sicilian footprints, though. “Dinny yon bray frothering!” he explains.

We’ll have to leave it at that for now.

Constable Chumley’s Quest (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Constable Chumley is searching for caecilians–the legless, blind, secretive amphibians of the tropics, expected to descend on Scurveyshire in great ferocious masses in response to thousands of people squeaking squeaky toys.

“So begins Chapter CDXLI of my immortal, epic romance, Oy, Rodney,” author Violet Crepuscular crepusculates upon her readers. On second thought, there seems to be something oddly wrong with that sentence.

Ms. Crepuscular loses no time in getting involved in a controversy with reader Nikita Khrushchev of Bismuth City, Minnesota. The reader has insisted that there were no proper squeaky toys during the Victorian Era.

“This poltroon, this overcooked frankfurter, this podiatrist in sheep’s clothing–this squirming mealworm, this potted plant that affects human speech!–this annoying little nit!” she writes. “Obviously he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“Has he never heard of poetic license? Sheesh! History records that the first reliable squeaky toy was created by the Swedish tent-maker, Elvira Madigan, in 1372. It was then put on the shelf until the 20th century, when the worldwide demand for squeaky toys manifested itself. Jumpin’ Jiminy,” she expostulates, “all these illiterate boobs out there who think they can be writers!”

But none of this is getting us to Constable Chumley, is it?

The constable is searching high and low for any caecilians that might have infiltrated into Scurveyshire. He is going house to house, explaining to puzzled homeowners, “Ay dankle yon frought yair doddening.” Johnno the Merry Minstrel reminds him not to waste time searching for caecilian footprints. “Och! Be dander!” cries Chumley. He has, alas, been using almost all his time searching for caecilian footprints.

That’s as far as Violet has got this week. Not even a loaf of pound cake with home-made toothpaste filling can lift her spirits.

Appointment With Doom! (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Squeaky-toy madness has gripped all Scurveyshire! You can’t hear yourself think, and even the dogs can’t stand it anymore. Worse, questions are being asked in Parliament. “There still is a Scurveyshire? It wasn’t wiped out in the Wars of the Roses?” And the always popular, “What the deuce is wrong with those people?”

Chapter CDXL of Violet Crepuscular’s interminable epic romance, Oy, Rodney, promises to be a turbulent one. And on top of all that, Ms. Crepuscular is thinking of adapting it into a Broadway musical. “I may have to find a way to pull the substitute vicar from Zanzibar out from under the regular vicar’s backyard wading pool,” she gravitates to her readers. “But hey, as long as you’re going to have a stageful of squeaky toys, you might as well take advantage of the music that they make.”

We have a sneak preview, right here, of one of the most popular squeaky toys now being squeaked by everyone in Scurveyshire:

“I have never heard anything so beautiful!” rhapsodizes Ms. Crepuscular. “No wonder the caecilians–” (I thought she’d forgotten those, but no such luck)–“are stirred up all over the tropics: stirred up to go to Scurveyshire!” We are not told why these secretive, little-known amphibians should be irresistibly drawn to the sound of squeaky toys.

“But take a good look around your house!” counsels Mr. Crepuscular. “If you have a dog, you probably have two or three squeaky toys. And where there are squeaky toys, you’ll find caecilians! Well, I mean, you can try to find them. They’re always hiding.”

The Substitute Vicar from Zanzibar (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Introducing Chapter CDXXXIX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular takes issue with “a mean-minded reader from Bad Axe, Michigan” who doesn’t think Scurveyshire has anything to fear from an invasion of caecilians–blind, eel-like amphibians inhabiting the world’s tropics.

“This nay-sayer, this spoil-sport, this tartuffe!” she writes. “I’d like to see any romance she writes! Has she ever even seen a caecilian? Of course not! Has she ever seen how caecilians react when stirred up by the clamor of a thousand squeaky toys? I do wish some of these know-it-all readers out there would just shut up and let me tell the story!”

Meanwhile, the substitute vicar has arrived from Zanzibar to fill in for Scurveyshire’s regular vicar, who is again laid up with conniptions. The substitute vicar, a Mr. Mpombo, speaks only Swahili; so no one understands when he says he’d like to cool off in the vicar’s backyard wading pool. Besides which, the din of all those squeaky toys makes it virtually impossible to hear him.

No sooner has he changed into his stylish Zanzibari bathing outfit, and equipped himself with a rubber duck and life preserver, and skipped merrily out to the pool… than he gets sucked under it, never to be seen again.

“Looks like another postponement of our wedding!” sighs Lord Jeremy Coldsore to his bride-to-be, Lady Margo Cargo.

“What? What’s that you say?” bellows the bride. “I can’t hear over all those squeaky toys.” But try as he might, Lord Jeremy can’t be heard.

“It should be borne in mind that the caecilians have a long, long way to go before they get to Scurveyshire,” Ms. Crepuscular crepusculates. “But mark my words–they’ll be very, very hungry when they get here!”

18,671 Swimming Trunks Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

(And that’s only the bottom half!)

 

Jailbreak in Scurveyshire (‘Oy, Rodney’)

Tanystropheus - Facts and Pictures

[Editor’s Note: I cannot find the image of a book cover that is usually displayed with an ‘Oy, Rodney’ episode. The closest I could come was this picture of a Tanystropheus–which I admit is not that close, but what can one do?]

Chapter CDXXXII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, finds Lord Jeremy Coldsore and his fiancee, Lady Margo Cargo, both locked up in gaol, Constable Chumley having arrested them for reasons best known to himself. But behind the scenes, Lady Margo’s crusty old butler, Crusty, is plotting to break his mistress out of gaol.

All he needs is an elephant.

“Only an elephant is big and strong enough to break down the wall of the gaol so Lady Margo can get out,” he confides to Constable Chumley (of all people). Chumley happens to know where he can rent an elephant. There’s a man in Plaguesby who keeps a few in his stables.

Having rented the elephant and fortified her with a swallow of grog from The Lying Tart, Crusty and the constable turn her loose on the wall. Neither of them has remembered to forewarn Lady Margo, who is almost killed when the elephant batters down the wall.

“Hurry up, you lazy old bat!” cries Crusty. “Before the police come!” He then remembers that Constable Chumley is already there. They have to help Lady Margo out of the rubble–she will need a new upholstered wooden leg–and Crusty helps her hop back home.

In the adjacent cell, Lord Jeremy is beside himself.

“You just wait until the next time you ask me for a raise!” he bellows at the constable. “You copepod! You wretch!” Only then does it dawn on Chumley that he may have done something not strictly in accord with normal police procedure. He apologizes with genuine exfoliation (her word, not mine!).

“Ayn yerk nee fluzzin’, M’lord!” he groans.

“Oh, forget it!” growls Lord Jeremy.

‘Oy, Rodney’ Readers Getting Restless

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Introducing Chapter CDXXX of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney, Violet Crepuscular shares a letter she received from reader Cedric Durst of Ponco City, Bulgaria.

“Dear Mr. Crepuscular, so where’s this planet-threatening catastrophe you promised in your last chapter–that stupid business about the whelk and the crayfish not seeing eye to eye? You are playing games with us! Someone ought to censor you.”

“This is what you have to put up with, as an artist–arrant philistinism,” Ms. (not Mr.) Crepuscular replies. “You write about the obstacles to true love, and along comes some barbarian who wants to talk about aquariums! I am cut to the quick.”

Setting up the end of the world is no easy task. Now she’s getting bombarded with complaints from the Philistine community, such as it is. This distraction has made her narrative disjointed. There’s nothing for it but to move on to Chapter CDXXXI.

Lady Margo Cargo is mad at everyone for paying insufficient heed to the feelings of her pet crayfish, Oswin, while her fiancee, Lord Jeremy Coldsore, is equally miffed that his pet whelk, Stuart, has been slighted. Constable Chumley arrests them both.

“I say!” says Jeremy. “You can’t arrest me–I’m the justice of the peace! I’m your boss.”

The constable shrugs. “Menner yon third grockies, m’lord,” he replies sententiously. Locking the cell, he makes a grand show of throwing away the key and then moves on to The Lying Tart for a quick pint.

“This is your fault, Jeremy!” growls Lady Margo.

And there we must leave them while Violet answers the rest of her mail.