for writers and readers….
Mrs Finnegan gives SERIOUS ADVICE on affairs of the HEART and HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT in addition to being housekeeper of The Regency Town House.
I laugh out loud at your journal reports, though with niceties to mind, I should perhaps hide my amusement behind my gloved hand. Some of the details are SHOCKING! Speaking of gloves, do you have some CLEVER ideas to restore my kid gloves to their pristine best? Though I entirely keep my hands to myself, as one should, I cannot account for the smudges and marks which appear.
Happy of Hollingdean
I CAN UNDERSTAND your being shocked when reading my missives, for I do not flinch at tackling the most difficult of subjects. I suspect you are of a delicate nature and perhaps should not read my column in one go – savour it over several days.
But MIRTH? Dear Lady, I think you must have mistaken me for a jocular scribbler IN SOME lightweight publication.
It is said that there are two types of education: one teaches how to make a living and the other how to live. Mrs Finnegan provides a third variety: how to live better
Now, to business. How are YOU going to live with those mucky gloves? It is bad form to wear them as they are, but I DO NOT believe that kid gloves can only be worn once (although, as you’re inclined to be CARELESS, your next pair should be of doeskin as it is imminently washable).
I offer no guarantees but I suggest:
Put the gloves ON (very important) and wash in blood-warm soapy water. This can be tricky if these are 12 button gloves (about two foot long) designed to come well past your elbow. If they are you will need a DEEP BOWL OR BUCKET. Use only the mildest and softest soap.
Swish several times, rinse GENTLY. Pull them off GENTLY. Then tease THEM into shape GENTLY and lay flat on a towel to dry away from the sun or fire. While still damp put them on again SEVERAL TIMES for at least half an hour. TOUCH NOTHING. When they are completely dry, be affectionate and knead them like bread dough to keep the leather supple.
I hope that works (and if you are in need of entertainment I’ve always got my best jokes from stable boys….)
Melancholia! Isn’t it the most beautiful of words?
I am a young woman with a melancholy frame of mind. I love sitting by the sea gazing at the horizon wishing my handsome sailor beau would appear to whisk me off to foreign climes. (I should add that I am betrothed to the accountant who works for my father). But, of course, none of this is the problem!
My concern is that the sea air and constant splashing of the waves is playing havoc with my complexion. What do you recommend?
Misty-eyed Melissa of Moulsecoomb
IF YOU WANT to keep your youthful complexion find a group of fishwives and study them well. Then ask how old they are.
SIT BY THE SEA for hours and you CANNOT AVOID the HURT of abrasive salt water and winds that cut like a BLADE. Dry skin will make you OLD BEFORE YOUR TIME.
Yes, there are a HEAP of EXPENSIVE CONCOCTIONS you can buy to dab on your face and hands (Olympian Dew for example which claims to remove wrinkles, freckles, pimples, redness and every other skin ailment. It smells QUITE NICE which is all I will say about it.)
But PROTECTION is much better than CURE. Think yourself fortunate that you do not have to WORK HARD for your living and take up a new HOBBY. Embroidery IS A PRETTY WORD too.
And DREAM NOT of a fantasy beau sailing the seven seas, but reflect on the benefits of having an accountant husband at home. I’m sure there must be some.
Mrs Hankey has written. I knew the Mistress would not be slow in telling me what I should not be doing. But this is much worse…
What a departure that was! I made up my mind on the instant that we had to join Thomson in Somerset. What a pity you were out. I called for you but could find you nowhere so I summoned Robert and the coach and almost immediately we were gone. I am sure that you will have restored everything to its rightful place by now.
Not so bad you’re thinking, she’s gone off to be with The Master during this new period of ISOLATION. But wait! There’s more…
…our hats took up a lot of room in the coach and therefore there was no room for Robert’s wife and family to travel with us. There was quite a scene I am afraid, but I am sure you will understand Mrs Finnegan. I do not know where they will have gone…No matter, I am sure they will fend for themselves as they know Brighton en tout cas.
I’ve seen the groom’s wife once or twice, a pleasant woman I remember with four or five children. I had no IDEA they were ABANDONED… there is still more.
To be perfectly frank, it was the prospect of sharing space with the stares and stench of the underclass for such a long time that forced me to make the decision – imagine how it would have looked had we arrived at a coaching inn and out tumbled those brats. Where would they have slept? In truth, I was doing them a kindness.
No, you weren’t!
What to do and how to do it? That French phrase Mrs Hankey uses en tout cas must mean something. Maybe it refers to part of Brighton where they are sheltering. It beats through my head like a badly tuned harpsicord. I have no money to speak of but at least I can feed that poor family if I find them. That much I can do. But where can they be?
en tout cas. en tout cas.
It’s no good I must find out what it means. And the easiest way of doing that is nipping across the square and knocking on Number 60, the D’Albert residence – I haven’t seen the pair of them for awhile. It’s the young Monsieur that comes out I’m glad to say. I couldn’t be doing with his sour-faced mother today
He seems startled/worried/pleased to see me (in that order). I’ve my mouth open to ask my question when he bids me wait in the hall while he runs upstairs to fetch something of great importante. It’s an envelope with my name on it. I recognise the writing: Miss Martha.
Inside is a very brief note. She too is dreadfully worried about the groom’s family and included is five GOLD SOVEREIGNS
Do something, Dear Finnegan, with these
I shall. I am a woman WITH A PURPOSE.
I’m about to leave when I remember my original errand and ask the young Monsieur for the meaning of en tout cas.
He shrugs in the annoying Gallic way (do they have to learn how to inject the right mix of charm and indifference I wonder. Stand in front of mirrors and so on…I might try it myself.) In any case, he says. And shrugs again.
And there was me thinking it might help. IN ANY CASE She’s a heartless one that Mrs Hankey.
I am halfway across the Square when two thoughts knock on my brain and ask to come in:
1) Why didn’t the young Monsieur race across the Square to me as SOON as Miss Martha’s sovereign-heavy letter arrived?
2) There was another envelope alongside the one addressed to me. I didn’t see it clearly but I swear it was also in Miss Martha’s hand. Is she and the Monsieur CORRESPONDING IN SECRET?
Are there TWO YOUNG WOMEN in need of SAVING? And is Mrs Finnegan to housekeeper to do it?
Mrs Finnegan is the creation of Bridget Whelan and Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook
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