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Last Chance for a Spinster? Mrs Finnegan has strong views on the subject – ADVICE from the 1830s Brighton housekeeper

Mrs Finnegan is the Celebrated Authority in affairs of the HEART and HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT. Although she is busy maintaining the highest standards at The Regency Town House , she always has time for the weak, the worried, the woebegone...and sometimes counts herself among that number

I tell everyone that I am single by choice, but the truth it’s not my choice! Out of the blue a man of my acquaintance has proposed. He will probably lose his job if he doesn’t find a wife soon so has only given me a few days to make up my mind. His conversation is dull and he is rather childish in his ways, but seems harmless.
This could be my last chance.
Bothered and Bewildered from Bognor

Your heart is not in this match – I don’t think your head is either. Why give him your hand?

There are worse things than being on your own. HOWEVER, there is at least one THING in your suitor’s favour – he is honest about his motives.

You could make a counter offer. People think that sexual infidelity INFLICTS the most heartache within a marriage. NOT SO! Communication causes the most problems. Usually the lack of it. But in this case you could negotiate a clause that limits the number of conversations with your husband to TWO a week – both over breakfast when he is still HALF ASLEEP. That way you will at least have your evenings free…

The lady of the house has accused me of making eyes at her husband. As if I would! I may only be a humble kitchen maid but he’s fat, farty and absolutely ancient. What shall I do? I don’t want to lose this job.
Mortified! from Morden

I imagine this is how the Mistress looks at poor dear Mortified.

Your mistress is blind to the realities of life and the appearance of her husband. She will always eye you with suspicion – you cannot use reason on her.
As for the Master…if he shares his wife’s opinion of himself, keep your distance. The very ancient can still be nimble.
Don’t LOSE your job.
Get rid of it. AFTER you have found another one.
And do it soon.

Yours Respectfully
Mrs Finnegan

PS Mrs Hankey is still not here. Do I buy the brace of pheasants going at very a good price or do I not? How much beef shall I order in? Milk, cheese, nuts, fruit? If the household is returning there must be PROVISIONS.

And you cannot air a bedroom and say, that’s a job DONE. Because an airing will not keep, NO MORE than good cream in this WEATHER.

A letter arrived today for Miss Martha. I did not hide my impatience. I stood outside her room waiting for a word. She came out with a look on her face I could not interpret.
“Well,” said I because I could not hold myself in any longer.”What does the Mistress say?”
Miss Martha opened her mouth to speak and nothing came out. She looked down at her mother’s elegant handwriting, then brought the letter up to her face and read from it.

It is not a no and it is not a yes.

While not wanting to blow my own bassoon, I am a good market-woman, but this is not going to help me shop.
There’s a knock on the door and more bad news. A lad has brought over a note from the riding master at number 61. Tea has been postponed on health grounds.

Mr Peregrine Hilderbrace begs to inform us that he is well, his cook is well, his man servant is also in good health and he knows that we are blooming…but he has heard that social occasions of this nature can be the cause of infection. He is distraught, he is beside him, he hopes we can still enjoy our constitutionals together in the open air around Brunswick Square, but for the time being….more flowery language follows but it still means NO CAKE.

I wasn’t expecting anything quite as fancy as this, but something small and sweet and cooked by someone else…

If I were not in a thoroughly bad mood before I would be now. All very well, for Miss Martha to say it doesn’t matter, better to be safe tra la la. She isn’t the one who has to beat eggs into butter, sift the flour, grind the sugar …and it doesn’t help that’s she’s right. No matter, I shall rise above the disappointment with grace and dignity and perhaps a little wine later. No sooner has that thought been thought, when there is more knocking.
This is no little lad with a message. No, it is the “French” professor of dancing, greatly agitated. The whole house is shaking from the tremor.

I know what you’re thinking: him again.

“Mademoiselle Martha,” he yells through the letter box. “Au secours! Au secours!”
She races down the stairs and FLINGS the door open. The “professor” turns on his heel and dashes back to his own home on the other side of the square. Miss Martha runs. She is a WHIRLWIND behind him: a cascade of emerald green and Russet hair blowing in the SEPTEMBER BREEZE.
Where am I?
Right behind Miss Martha: keys clanking at my waist hard enough to deliver a bruise (a housekeeper never leaves her keys behind whatever the crisis); eyes sharp; breath short.
I keep up regardless.
I am prepared for any emergency or bogus alarm. I do NOT trust the D’Alberts at Number 60.
It is at that moment, dear reader, that I realise in my haste I have neglected to don any footwear. I stand on the grass of Brunswick Square in my third best pair of stockings uncomfortably aware that my feet are wet and it has not been raining.
Alas I have no more time now – but more, I promise, next week.

Mrs Finnegan is the creation of Bridget Whelan  and Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook 

Not had enough of Mrs Finnegan? You can now watch her on YouTube (yes, how strange is that! She doesn’t know how it happened either)
Becoming Mrs Finnegan via @YouTube

One comment on “Last Chance for a Spinster? Mrs Finnegan has strong views on the subject – ADVICE from the 1830s Brighton housekeeper

  1. Pingback: Coping with a Tedious Tea Party and Praise for Old Maids – Good Advice from Mrs Finnegan, the Brighton 1830s house | BRIDGET WHELAN writer

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This entry was posted on September 21, 2020 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , , .


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