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Mrs Finnegan is up from her sickbed but her temper is short ADVICE from the 1830s BRIGHTON HOUSEKEEPER AND AGONY AUNT

Mrs Finnegan, the Celebrated Authority in affairs of the HEART and HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT, is much better and is now greeting every morning at The Regency Town House with the question: what excitement will this new day bring? Or, perhaps more often, Why am I GETTING UP?

While I’m glad that your health problem are all behind you, I wish heartily that fate would treat me so lightly. Alas I am tormented by wheezes when I breath out, and twinges when I breath in. My feet are tortured by tiny pin-pricks plucking at my toes. And my nights are long and dark, wracked with a medley of agonising aches and pitiful pains.
I do not complain, but I resent my husband’s callous behaviour. He says he loves me – we are newly weds – but the way he sleeps would make an angel weep.
I toss and turn while he slumbers like a babe, a gentle smile playing on his lips.
Am I asking too much for him to wake of his own accord and hold my hand as I writhe in dire extreme?
Mrs Mis-Used of Middle Street

Yes, Madam. You are.


Don’t suppose many young men who are blessed with good-looking calves and talented dancing feet write for advice, but I am sorely vexed. Do I marry light-on-her-toes Miss Plain who knows her way around a quadrille or Miss Sweetly Pretty who is as ignorant of etiquette on and off the dance floor as a blind cat with lumbago?
Both come with dowries of a respectable size.
My mother says Miss Pretty is biddable. My sister says Miss Plain is enormous fun.
What does Mrs Finnegan say?
Mr Dapper Dancer

Be kind and SPARE biddable brides and women of spirit. Stay single.

Or Go BOIL your head in cabbage soup. I really don’t mind which.

Yours with a good deal of irritation

Mrs Finnegan

I am about my duties. I have written to Mrs Hankey and told her so. What else can I do? I am here to SERVE. Although truth be told, by half past noon I am SUFFICIENTLY weary to seek my bed again.
The best advice I can give this week is WAIT until next week before you ask for advice.
I am not myself.
On the outside I am the sophisticated and serene housekeeper that I have always been. Inside I am a tired, RED-FACED Gorgon ready to bite off a snake’s head.
This will pass.
Meanwhile in front of the gentry – or rather Miss Martha, the one representative of that ELITE CLASS who happens to be in residence – I posses all the Ss: sophistication, serenity, servility.

Miss Martha wants a tea party.
Her heart is set on it. It seems she has been PLANNING it while I laid on my bed of pain.
I smile. I can do this. Cold meats and Mrs Finnegan’s finest pickles – what could be NICER?
Fruit and pickles.
Has HUMANITY devised a finer repast?

Piccalilly is not the only pickle…

No, says Miss Martha. She wants Banbury Cakes. She wants sugar plums. She wants Sally Lunns. I have heard of these things. I have ate these things. I have not made these things.
I broached the subject of my pickled peaches. They are a legend in Brunswick Town! I do believe there fame has spread to Regency Square and Shoreham.
She mentions more dainties & pastry sweet things.
This isn’t a plain terrible idea, this is fancy terrible. This is terrible with raisins in it.
I look up some recipes.
SALLY LUNNS come from Bath, that I do know. It is a very YEASTY, very eggy bread that is best served warm with butter, jams or clotted cream.  It takes a long time to make. An ancient book from my mother’s time, written in 1770, says that should you want to serve it at supper it has to be made up at 10 o’Clock in winter and by 12 noon in summer. But what if it winterish summer day?
I hardly remember the chef. We met and then he was swept away with the rest of the household, escaping to the countryside, but my thoughts have turned to him frequently of late.
Does Mister Paul resemble this cook, I wonder….

Ready to pose at any opportunity

Or is this more his style?

Ready to test the wine at any opportunity

All I know with any certainty is that I would be delighted to hand his kitchen back to him.
I have told Miss Martha quite firmly that there can be no tea party. This week.
I haven’t said definitely next week, but I can see no way of avoiding it.
Right now all I can do is rest my eyes (and everything else).

This is not an exact likeness, dear reader

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This is a regular feature created and written with Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook

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This entry was posted on July 14, 2020 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , , , .


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