for writers and readers….

Birthday Anguish and Weak Ankles…Sound advice and sober reflection from the 1830s

Mrs Finnegan’s Chronicles: the Celebrated Authority in affairs of the HEART and HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT staying alert at The Regency Town House in that South Coast pearl of a town, Brighton and Hove

Both our parents are dead and I live with my older sister in the family home.  We are comfortably off without having the means to be showy or extravagant.  Neither of us have married and we have no desire to do so.  We lead a quiet life, but make a fuss of our birthdays with tea, cake and presents.  However, things have changed.  For my 39th birthday my sister gave me her old writing desk, refurbished with a new Italian leather top.  I was very pleased until I saw what was coming through the front door – a bigger, grander desk she had bought for herself. 
For my 40th birthday she gave me a silhouette of herself and my 41st has gone by almost without note. 
She had the gall to ask me what I wanted two days before her own birthday.  Whatever shall I do?
Distraught of Regency Square

It is interesting you don’t mention how you celebrate your sister’s birthday.  I suspect you are well-matched. Forget the whole blowing-the-candles-out fandangle – you’re not 12. Enjoy your money and buy your own desks and pictures.


My husband-to-be says that I have only one flaw and that is my ankles which I admit are not strong.  Can you help?
Miss Awfully Wobbly of Worthing

You are fortunate woman to have only one imperfection.  You will find the recipe below work wonders, but how does your fiancé know so much about your ankles before your wedding day?

Take a raw oyster in the palm of the right hand, and rub the ankles with it until the oyster is almost rubbed away.  This should be done every evening at bed-time and it will soon be found that the ankles are stronger.

Yours MOST respectfully

Mrs Finnegan

PS The mistress has written again. Not opening the letter is worse than opening it. Here goes…

Calm yourself Mrs Finnegan,
I have heard from my daughter Martha and presently she is in Bath. She is alive and for that I thank God, however she is adamant that she will not return here for she says she cannot bear the boredom, and I confess to feeling unsettled about that last argument she had with her father. It may yet have consequences, though what they will be I cannot tell.

Therefore she may still come to Brunswick Square. Please be vigilant that at any moment she could arrive.

I am extremely worried that these adventures of hers will besmirch her reputation irrevocably.  She has always been wayward as I explained in my last letter. It is because I wish to protect her that I am taking you into my confidence, and trust that you will at all times respect the delicate and confidential nature of our correspondence.

It appears that she is the guest of Lady Jane Horrocks who resided with us for a month, last year before you came to us. At first, I admit, I was pleased that Martha had a titled young lady as her close friend, but very soon it appeared to me that, under her influence, my daughter was being encouraged to meet company that I judged most unsuitable. I chaperoned the young ladies to three balls and I witnessed the forward behaviour of Lady Jane and was much distressed. I was therefore relieved when she departed and am now most perturbed that Martha is staying with her.   I can only trust that their friendship will not survive for long since I am happy to say that the recklessness of Lady Jane is of a different nature from that of my daughter, who, when all is said and done, can be sensible.

Poor, dear, innocent. She protests that she is only anxious to experience the freedoms that she perceives my generation did not have, but I have kept her close and sheltered her from dangers and I feel that she is in many respects naïve. It is for this reason that I ask you to remain vigilant.  

I am sure the earring has fallen into a chair or a crack in the floorboards.   Please have another, thorough search.

Yours etc
Martha Hankey

Follow @_Mrs_Finnegan on twitter. She writes daily and is eager to make new friends of good character and amiable disposition.
This is a regular feature created and written with Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: