for writers and readers….
Mrs Finnegan is the Celebrated Authority on affairs of the HEART and HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT in addition to being housekeeper of The Regency Town House. TODAY there is room for one letter only. BE WARNED! Those of a NERVOUS DISPOSITION should scroll down to the bottom and pass it by…
O Mrs Finnegan!
I love stories which drip shivers down my spine,
but since Halloween nightmares around my mind entwine.
As soon as my eyelids flutter shut against the light,
they spring open in dire fright!
O Mrs Finnegan!
The creaking staircase speaks of ghouls creeping to my room
while shadows turn an old coat into a rook croaking doom!
O Mrs Finnegan! Will I ever sleep easy again?
Petrified Poet of Pinner
My dear, we have much in common (although we differ in writing style) . I’ve always ENVIED those who know the JOY of untroubled slumbers. I do not. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards in their heads well swept, all THE LITTLE MONSTERS closed up in a trunk at the foot of the bed. My monsters roam loose, AS DO YOURS.
However, I do have a formula which will ease you into a SLEEP SO DEEP others may think you are already AT PEACE in your GRAVE.
FIRST Dine on LETTUCE SOUP. It was known to the ancients as a soporific and what made Plato snore will surely do you good. IGNORE THE COLOUR (and the taste) and old superstitions about the poisonous possibilities.
NEXT sip a cup of blood-warm POSSET.
SLEEP with YOUR HEAD raised. Creating a DOWNWARD SLOPE will aid digestion and it is also good should you NEED to rise from your bed SUDDENLY.
FINALLY Clear your mind of those stories which EXCITE the imagination by fixing on one DULL THING: a pot of porridge perhaps, a plain linen shift or the countenance of your husband…
STILL AWAKE? Repeating an old Scottish prayer will put you in the RIGHT STATE of mind.
“From ghosties and ghoulies and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night, Lord deliver us”
I wish you well and as fellow lover of the GOTHIC I thought I would share my favourite story.
One dark night two girls passing St Nicholas’ graveyard in Brighton were glad to see a stranger behind them.
“Do you mind if we walk with you, we are afraid of seeing a ghost”.
“You’re right to be afraid” he replied. “When I was alive I was afraid too”
PS No more letters this week for I must tell you the result of my investigations. Regular readers will know that I have been the VICTIM of a cruel attack on my reputation. Someone in Brunswick Square has set herself up as a PURVEYOR OF ADVICE and confidante of the heartbroken. She signs her misbegotten, ill-written, wince-making missives MRS F and charges a farthing. The insolence!
The main suspect is Madam D’Albert. Surely a woman who pretends to be dead to gain attention is capable of any deception? (Missed that edition of my chronicles? You can read about it here). My investigations have been conducted with an ice-carving logic and a precision that surgeons would envy.
Evidence of Guilt:
In need of money (although she and her son attempt to hide it)
Poor knowledge of English – hence spelling mistakes
An eye for the main chance – hence endorsement of local business.
Would DO ME DOWN if given the chance – hence signing as MRS F
And look at that face!
Evidence of Innocence:
In truth, a farthing here or there will not go far towards paying the rent on a Brunswick Square residence
That’s it – I am unable to think of anything else.
A sample of her handwriting is all I need to prove my case and I have A SLY PLOY to obtain it. A request for a French recipe would surely not be turned down – but I can’t be the one to ask. No, I can only be “the messenger”. I BROACH the subject with the Mistress. (It still gives me a shock everytime I remember she has returned). She waves me away with an airy flick of the hand – no words exchanged. I put the idea to Miss Martha, hiding my intent as she holds the D’Albert household in high esteem. (Miss M is an admirable woman, but lacks insight.)
What can I tell you? The DEED was soon DONE – with very poor grace on Madam D’Albert’s part who wanted to know why we ask HER for a recipe. “Am I a cook to bother with such things? I eat that is as much as I know.” A suspicious reluctance, don’t you think? Finally she was persuaded to a write few lines (on trussing a capon). I pounced on it with glee and carried the precious paper across the Square.
In the SANCTUARY of the housekeeper’s room I was able to compare Madam D’Albert’s poor English with the poor English of Mrs F’s farthing letters.
Readers, I can tell you…the two letters bear no RESEMBLANCE to one another. AT ALL. Madam D’Albert writes with an easy elegant style and her English is PERFECT (so perfect that I now SUSPECT her French credentials. But that is for another day.)
I am uncertain how to proceed and for the moment the Town House (and Mrs Hankey) require my attention. Tidying her bedroom I happened again upon her diary – such a coincidence. And it happened again to fall open.
.…I admit that Mrs F is proving to be something of a treasure….
My spirits were lifted in a thrice but a KERFUFFLE on the pavement stopped me from reading further. A shouting and a screaming came up from below, and so raucous was it, so uncouth and so frequently were the words MRS FINNEGAN tossed about I had to see who was causing the SHENANIGANS myself. It was none other than that SLUBBERDEGULLION of a woman, the housekeeper from Number 59.
Why was I besmirching her good name she wanted to know? Why was I making sore complaints about the “charity work what she was doing” (her words) in giving people advice.
“Giving, said I. GIVING? You sell it for base coin.” Dear reader, it was a speech I was born to make (and it helped that Mrs Hankey was not at home). I stood on the steps of Number 13 and CICERO could not have equalled my RHETORIC.
I cried, I WEPT, I appealed to the heavens for justice. Mr Peregrine popped across to clap.
“There can be only one MRS F in Brunswick Square and that is MRS FINNEGAN“
Mr Peregrine clapped some more.
Her at number 59, much subdued, said she hadn’t yet made a whole penny for all her TROUBLE, hadn’t known I was in the advice business myself (NOT KNOWN! how is that possible!) and didn’t want to hear any more about the whole MALARKEY. But what did I mean about being the only Mrs F in the Square? She herself was Mrs Flanagan, there was Mrs Fox across the way, Mr and Mrs Felixstowe near the sea…she RATTLED ON, but I left at this point. I had more urgent matters to attend inside. Mrs Hankey’s diary needed to be put away safely. In so doing, my eye happened to travel down the page…
...I must keep up a good front and maintain authority, especially with Mrs Finnegan who, good as she is, might think that she is indispensable. That would be dangerous….
Oh well, dear reader. Oh well.
Mrs Finnegan is the creation of Bridget Whelan and Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook
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