for writers and readers….
This week Mrs Finnegan, housekeeper at The Regency Town House and agony aunt to the masses, replies to a poet and an over eager dancer. She also finds solace in housework which is probably just as well.
Mrs Finnegan, I am sad
O! O! I’m sadder than the saddest person
in this great big sad world
I sit alone in my room thinking sad thoughts and writing sad poetry. I am a 28 year old man in good health, good looking too (so I’m told) and have inherited a fortune. I smile a sad smile when people murmur that my life must be easy. If only they knew.
And yet I cannot say that I am truly unhappy with my situation.
Ah me, I express myself better in rhyme. May I send you some of my poetry?
Desolate Dennis of Durrington
That is to say the housekeeper’s room is full. If it were human it would have suffocated by now for it is stuffed with linen and replete with flatware. It is quite bloated with accounts books, ready reckoners, reminders and shopping lists…I could go on. Suffice to say there is no space for the slimmest volume of poetry. Alas, not even a single sheet. But rest assured Dear Desolate, having read your letter, I can imagine it.
I do, however, have a solution. Marry as soon as possible and you will gain illuminating insights into the nature of existence. A bachelor may be a fool and not know it, but a married man is never left in ignorance. Have children and sitting in an empty room will be a thing of the past for you will soon acquire new interests outside the home that demand your attention.
Whirling about the room makes me giddy with happiness! I am devoted to the noble art of dance and seize every opportunity to twirl across polished floor boards! My problem is that I am a gentleman of a rather portly persuasion and it is difficult to find a lady who matches my enthusiasm. When I do secure a dance partner she always refuses my request for another turn!!
What shall I do? Please don’t tell me to stop dancing it is life itself to me!!!
Perhaps you and I would make a stunning prancing pair???!! What do you say!!!!
The Double-Shuffler from Shadwell
I do not whirl or twirl. I OCCASIONALLY glide (and those occasions lessen with each passing year). In my youth, I have been known to float across a ballroom in the arms of a young gallant, but I assure you with ALL THE GRAVITY I can muster that I have never ever PRANCED. (And I do believe, Sir, that you have used up your life time supply of exclamation marks.)
While our GIRTHS may be similar, our demeanour is not. You need to find a lady with EQUAL enthusiasm for athletic exercise or at least one prepared to put up with COPIOUS perspiration and energetic social EXERTION in return for gentlemanly companionship.
Where WILL you find her? Lining the walls of a ballroom or dance hall. Your amethyst in the SHADOWS will be in want of a partner. She is perhaps TOO TALL (men do not like to be OVERLOOKED); or too plain (by the trivial standards of FICKLE FASHION); or too poorly dressed or too shy or too-something ELSE. Ignore SUCH LABELS. Although she does not fit in, it is possible you will fit together. If you find a likely prospect ask – as CHARMINGLY as you know how – for the next two dances. Unable to ESCAPE after the first, she may grow accustom to you by the end of the second. If so, BE EVER GRATEFUL and treat her like the dancing queen she undoubtedly is.
When you are melancholic, snubbed or heartbroken, that is the time to scrub the floors and clean the fire grate. You are miserable anyway.
I THROW OUT that piece of advice even though no one has asked for it. I’ve been saving it for the right reader, but I don’t think Desolate Dennis or the Double-Shuffler would appreciate it and I’m tired of it GATHERING DUST on my writing table.
Today I set to work & SWEPT HARD to dinner. From attic to basement I swept up a storm, destroyed a score of spider homes, scared the stable cat and woke up every sleeping moth IN EVERY WARDROBE.
In general I think I did more harm than good except that I found the Mistress’ PEARL EARRING trapped between wainscoting and floorboard in her bedroom. It has been lost nearly a year and I should be delighted, excepting I know she will blame me for not FINDING IT sooner AND THAT DOES TAKE THE EDGE OFF IT SOMEHOW.
I’m told the post is not getting through from the west country so I shall not HURRY to write with the news. I imagine a hill of letters from the Mistress piling up in WORTHING, ready to fall on me like an avalanche.
It is hard to stay inside with only next door’s hall clock for company. (I have forgotten to wind the Regency Town House’s clock so the ticks are second-hand.)
Harder though to go out, slipping on frost-rimed pavements and whipped by a wind straight from the Russian steppes, to risk infection and injury.
I am given to understand that some find me TALL and fearsome.
Others see me as small and BENEVOLENT.
Under all of this I am a woman with weaknesses, eccentricities, SECRET HOPES and appetites. I am MRS FINNEGAN.
Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.
Mrs Finnegan is the creation of Bridget Whelan and Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook
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