for writers and readers….

When Passions are running HIGH you need good advice…from the Brighton Housekeeper of the 1830s

Mrs Finnegan is the Celebrated Authority on affairs of the HEART and ANKLES, but she labours under the cloud that is hanging over The Regency Town House

My ankles are my downfall! Ever since I was asked to fetch peaches from the greenhouse the under gardener has found devious ways of catching a glimpse. Twice he has caught me with my skirts pinned up when I was scrubbing floors and he had no right or reason to be in the House at all! Then he came upon me up a step ladder when I was clearing spider webs.

He was cooing and calling me sweet names, all the time his hand hand creeping up my stockings. I thought of kicking out but he’s an old man, a good half hour past 40 and I feared I’d do him an injury. He ran off when he heard the parlour maid coming.

Tell me truly, could I be pregnant? His hand never went above my knee and I had my stockings on all the time.
A Good Girl from Goring-by-Sea

FEAR NOT, MY DEAR (by today’s coach I have sent you a little pamphlet which will put your mind entirely at rest). And the only WRONG you did was taking a good deal more care for this man’s well-being than HE HAD ANY RIGHT to expect.

Let me be PLAIN. Your ankles are your own. The army of strokers and SQUEEZERS and pinchers, and all the nasty little gropers with their mean fingers, have no more right to touch or look than I have to spit in the face of GOOD KING WILLIAM.

READERS MAY BE SHOCKED at my boldness. But I will be bold for all innocent serving girls who suffer like this. And they do, they do! Daily they suffer and often in silence. They suffer from the velvet-clad rich rascal and the SMOCK-WEARING shepherd, they suffer from the sermon-spouting scholar and the lowly labourer.

Men, keep your hands in your POCKETS! And your eyes on a maid’s face. GIRLS, kick when you can. And KICK hard. If I see any fine fellows in Brunswick Square limping in the next week I shall KNOW the reason why!

As you can see from my brilliantly executed self portrait, I am a very handsome man. I consider myself to be talented, knowledgeable and amusing. My conversation holds people in raptures.
However, and this is a puzzle, I seem to find myself often alone.
Most particularly I am unable to gain the acquaintance of young ladies no matter how hard I try. Most seem to dissolve in giggles before making an excuse to leave. 
This indicates to me that I am, of course, amusing. But why do they walk away?
Tarquin from Wherever I Hang My Hat!

Life, Sir, is full of such strange mysteries.

Yours Respectfully
Mrs Finnegan

They’ve gone!
Mrs Hankey and Miss Martha are rejoining the rest of the household. The pair of them were in a whirlwind of should-they-go/shouldn’t-they-go lockdown indecision and then they went, leaving me to mind the house. Again.

And they mess they left behind! A stranger would think we had been attacked by marauders with a violent dislike for drawers. Not one has been left in peace: they were pulled out; upturned; emptied; partially emptied; put in the wrong place; put back in the right place but with the wrong contents; and then, poor things, left naked and abandoned in the middle of the room.

I have acquired a sudden compassion for chests of drawers (in much the same way that others look upon kittens). I do not like to see them so ill-used and shall put all to rights. Tomorrow.

Today I have a diary to safeguard…Mrs Hankey cannot have meant to leave it behind in a bundle of shifts and stockings…before sending it to her I must check that nothing is missing.

….decided that I must have the best in everything. It is only fitting for my station and Thomson can certainly afford it… I have not yet quite assured my position in society, but from now on I am resolved to make it my priority. I think there are books on improvement I could benefit from. Before I find it, I must keep up a good front and maintain authority, especially with Mrs Finnigan…

Why mention me? And spell my name wrong? 

…by revisiting St Andrew’s Church in Waterloo Street. We have a pew and I make sure that Martha accompanies me and that we display our wealth. Our visits are only marred by those urchins who beg outside the Church.  The Brunswick Estate police should not allow them…I am proud to say I never relent and sweep by. I have even aimed a kick at one, I so despise them. (I am sure no one saw me.) 

Kicking again! But there’s such a thing as a righteous kick in a JUST CAUSE and this. THIS! I shall put the diary to one side as it has put me quite out of conternance.

Like Mrs Hankey, I have resolved on a plan of self-improvement. This last hour I devoted to book browsing and I discovered a new word LATIBULATE. It means to hide in a CORNER in an attempt to ESCAPE reality. This afternoon I shall put it into action.

I also intend not to look out of the window in the mornings.
I must let myself have something to look forward to in the afternoon…

Last night I woke sure I could hear someone cry. Thinking I myself was weeping, I felt my face and it was dry. Then I looked out at the dark night and thought: why, it’s just the rain, the rain, always the rain.

However, when my spirits are low I reflect that matters could be very much worse.

After all, Mrs Hankey could have stayed.

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

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This entry was posted on November 10, 2020 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , , .


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