for writers and readers….

Unwanted Hair and the dangers of Romantic Novels – ADVICE from the 1830s BRIGHTON HOUSEKEEPER AND AGONY AUNT

Mrs Finnegan, the Celebrated Authority in affairs of the HEART and HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT, never fails to give satisfaction in her advice-giving role while attending to her numerous duties at The Regency Town House 

Too ashamed to give my name, but I fear good dear Mrs Finnegan that I may be growing a moustache.
Anon of Arundel

Some will laugh outright, others hide smirking smiles behind their hands, but I treat this problem with the GRAVITY it deserves, providing you are not a man. (If you are of the male sex, away with you! This is exactly what the skin between your nose and lip is supposed to do.)

Do not be tempted to use your father’s shaving implement. And never ever confide in a BARBER-SURGEON. They will not respect your privacy, says ONE WHO KNOWS.

Do not seek assistance from Friends either

I have found a remedy you may want to try: mix saltwater with fasting spittle. That is the SPIT taken from your mouth early in the morning before breakfast. I’m told its CURATIVE qualities were mentioned in the Bible.

It is not IMPIOUS to have another plan in place (you may want to call it Plan Beta) if the first should fail. Search out a small tool comprising of a simple band of metal folded to make a tiny pair of TONGS. I do not know if they have a proper name, but I have seen such an item in the étui of a fine lady along with her collection of toothpicks. I STRONGLY suspect she had it for the same reason: to pluck out errant hairs. My dear, you are not alone!

If you cannot find a pair, ask a metal worker – one who makes scissors and PRECISION instruments – to manufacture one for you. If he asks the purpose say you want to DE-BONE fish or catch lice, whichever he is most likely to believe.

If this fails, I’m afraid I have no Plan Gamma.


Romances are in my head and heart all day long. Me and the other maids put together the little money we have to buy the latest magazines and devour every word. I’ve often wondered about the chances of a serving girl marrying a Duke. Do you know?
Dreaming in Ditchling

I have it on the best of authorities* that there’s about 30 dukes in the entire country. I suspect most of them are old and all of them gouty.

The chances of a maid marrying a duke? After some swift mental arithmetic, I can confidently calculate it to be 0.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a good romance. They help to carry the day when your arms ache from fetching coal and your fingers bleed from scrubbing the steps.

If you must daydream, pin your hopes on an earl.
There are a lot more of those floating about.

However, they are not a guide to finding happiness. Nor do they instruct you on MEN. These stories are populated with heroes and they died out the same time as unicorns. Romances are not real LIFE. We know that because they always stop at the SAME PLACE: the wedding.

Yours respectfully

Mrs Finnegan

PS No letter from Mrs Hankey. It is unlike her to be quiet for so long.
No new sightings of the French couple at Number 60 either, but I did hear light steps prance and caper outside the basement window the other night. Alas, although I raced up the stairs, I only caught sight of a frock coat retreating in the distance.

Did I hear the dancing master pirouetting home?

I have TOTAL Command of the kitchen now that it is a little less soggy. I am the Admiral in charge of the paid-by-the-day maids MOPPING UP: the GENERAL organising a brigade of painters and carpenters turning the dank, damp room back into what it once was – the VERY ENGINE of the House. It is most gratifying that I have Miss Martha’s complete and UTTER trust.

Today, however, a gentleman appeared on the scene making notes in a little book and TUTTING LOUDLY. He spoke to me NOT one word. Instead he fired questions at the men as quick as shot from a musket. Everytime one answered he pursed his lips and made another note in his little book.

I introduced myself. He looked at me as if I was a pane of glass. Miss Martha appeared. He bowed low and said he was here on her MOTHER’S INSTRUCTIONS. The dresser was only fit to be condemned, he declared. The floor should be replaced, the entire ceiling torn down and every last cupboard ripped out. In short nothing could be salvaged. Our plan of REPAIR and MAKING GOOD (if not better) was impossible!

Miss Martha stood on the stairs and nodded. The situation, she said, put her in mind of an old Chinese Proverb.

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.

Dear Reader he left.
I am having that proverb EMBROIDERED on cushions.
Spelt out in pokerwork to be HUNG ABOVE the mantelpiece.
And CARVED on my gravestone! (Or is that going too far?)

*Read About Those Dukes in Risky Regencies

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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.
Quite often.
Now and then.

One comment on “Unwanted Hair and the dangers of Romantic Novels – ADVICE from the 1830s BRIGHTON HOUSEKEEPER AND AGONY AUNT

  1. mdwordsmith
    August 16, 2020

    Pfft, a sniffling lackey sent by that thatch-headed fool in Westminster, no doubt. Well, what do we Yanks know? We have our very own home-grown thatch-headed fool sending his lackeys out and about to do their worst. But our newly-appointed and about-to-be-elected champions will vanquish his stupidity and no doubt introduce baskets full of their very own trouble. Best to get on with things before someone finds another cockamamie excuse to distract from the good work!

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