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Unrequited love and the Science of Warts ADVICE from the 1830s BRIGHTON HOUSEKEEPER AND AGONY AUNT

Mrs Finnegan, the Celebrated Authority in affairs of the HEART and HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT, is giving advice despite damp feet at The Regency Town House …and meets a new neighbour for the first time.

Warts, Mrs Finnegan, warts! I can hardly bring myself to write the word. First one appeared on my hand, then another and now I have found a tiny third on the back of my neck. I swear I have never touched a toad in my life. Can you make them go away?
Full of Woe, Croydon Village

Toads are ugly creatures, but unfairly blamed for these blemishes that affect SO MANY. It is a superstition hanging over from more ignorant times. Today you can HARNESS the power of modern SCIENCE and the good news is that remedies are close at hand.

In the garden:
1) Blow on the warts nine times while standing outside in the LIGHT of a full moon. (Can you get someone else to blow on the back of your neck?)
2) Find a black snail and rub him on all your warts three times. Then stick the snail onto to a THORN. As he declines so will your warts.
In the kitchen:
1) Get a good fatty piece of BACON and rub it on your warts. Then bury the bacon – as it rots away your warts will disappear.
2) Cut an apple and rub it over the warts; the juice will loosen the wart, and in a few days it will DROP OFF. Any strong acid, either vegetable or mineral, has the same tendency so you may like to experiment with other things in the larder.

If none of these work ask your local blacksmith if you can wash in his FORGE water. This is the water he uses to cool the hot irons and is a sovereign remedy for skin blemishes.


I am a cook in an establishment of the middling sort and for the first time a footman has been hired. He looks very fine in the smart new livery the mistress has ordered and I can’t stop thinking about him, although he shows no interest in me whatsoever and is secretly married (secret from upstairs, but in the servants’ hall he talks about little else.) His wife lives two streets away.
Do you think there is any hope for me?
Sleepless in Steyning

All the hope in the world! But NOT in the arms of this man who is NOT free and NOT interested. To put it plainly, he is NOT for you.
Footmen often cut a fine figure in a well-cut rig. I have seen many a mere SHRIMP walk into a household and turn into a whale when they don their new clothes, but look closely and the shrimp still LURKS beneath. (And the uniform has to be given back one day.)

(This fellow was lucky it was only an artist who caught him napping and not his mistress!)

If the Mistress can afford a new servant and advertise the fact with liveries, ’tis likely that the family are on the UP AND UP and you can rise with them. You are a woman of many skills. My dear, you are a CATCH and must not forget it.
New opportunities await. To cheer you up I am sending you a favourite recipe. It will impress your employers and may even win the heart of an unencumbered man worthy of your affection. You would not be the first to find love with a pickled plum…

Prick the plums with a large needle then weigh them, and to every seven pounds of fruit use four pounds of sugar, two ounces of stick of cinnamon, one ounce of cloves, and a pint of best pickling vinegar.
Boil the vinegar, sugar and spices, and pour boiling hot over the fruit, which must be packed into a large jar; repeat this three times.
When the vinegar boils the third time, pack the plums in glass jars and pour the syrup over the plums.
When cold seal.
Then you have the pleasure of deciding who should be given the gift of this WONDERFUL TREAT. I suggest NOT the footman and his lady wife.

Yours respectfully

Mrs Finnegan

The kitchen!
I amaze myself with the way I cope with the aftermath of the flood.
“A snail in my teapot.” Words no housekeeper wants to say as she PADDLES through a flooded kitchen.
The kitchen is in the DRYING OUT stage. That is to say my mornings are soggy, my afternoons marshy and my evenings are positively pond like.
I discourage Miss Martha from coming downstairs to inspect the damage and every day I find new things that have been ruined or broken by the flood. It is quite a handy list.
The Mistress has written to Miss Martha but not to me. Is that a good thing or a bad thing ? She plans to return in the near future, but not I think until the mess is cleared up which will take QUITE some time.

There is new excitement in Brunswick Square to take our minds off our internal troubles, however, with the ARRIVAL of a French couple. The first we knew of it was an advertisement that first gave their address as East Street (see below) later amended to 60 Brunswick Square. A Professor of Dance as a neighbour….I remember my jig was much commented upon when I was a girl in Ireland…

Ah! I feel a special affinity with the language of ROMANCE as the dear departed Mr Finnegan (or Monsignor as he would sometimes laughingly call himself) – was butler to an émigré who fled the Revolution. Mr F had scant knowledge of French himself, but often said to me Firm Ta Bush (spelt in the foreign way ferme ta bouche).
Firm Ta Bush – his way of expressing affection. I may try them out on Madame D’Albert, it will surely make her feel as though she is among friends. Just returned from Paris – what will she be wearing?

The only image I have of Mr Finnegan

I have just encountered the lady in the Square. I smiled the famous Finnegan smile and uttered my few words of French which may not be in the Parisian style, but were spoken with a good heart and a hand outstretched in welcome.
The look she gave me would chill a corpse.
Monsignor D’Albert is a much younger man by all accounts. I don’t know what that is about, I never get involved in gossip.

Our new neighbour. “French” apparently

Mother and son. Apparently.
The housekeeper at Number 59 needed my advice on pronouncing the name. Is the D silent? she wanted to know. They are The Alberts at Number 60 as far as I am concerned.
Miss Martha has renamed the kitchen. It is now The Swamp. I’m getting to like her more each day.

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Mrs Finnegan is the creation of Bridget Whelan  and Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook but Mrs F wishes it to be known that her opinions are all her own. Probably.

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This entry was posted on August 4, 2020 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , , , , , .


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