for writers and readers….
In an unprecedented step this week Mrs Finnegan – the Celebrated Authority on MOST THINGS and housekeeper at The Regency Town House is SEEKING advice as well as handing it OUT
A solid and dependable young girl helps me look after my baby. She is most excellent at laundering and ironing the child’s linen However, she takes a very literal view of life. Awhile ago she left my baby by the outside drain because she heard the servants talking about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Fortunately no harm was done.
Mrs Finnegan, do you feel this is just an uninformed mind which may improve with education or an innocent in the ways of the world? In short, should I persevere with her?
Concerned Mother and Employer, Church Road, Brighton
CONCERNED? She threw your baby OUT!!
Forgive me, Madam, but you have failed to recognise that your maid failed to recognise that a small human being – no matter how UGLY, squawky and smelly – is on a different level to a pile of potato peelings.
Could the girl’s hearing be defective too?
When the other SERVANTS were discussing throwing the baby out with the bathwater I imagine the word NOT crept into the conversation. Some inference would SURELY have been made to indicate that this was not A GOOD THING.
However, I am reluctant to suggest that the girl should lose her position, although perhaps for the moment her place is with the laundry rather than in the nursery.
In future dealings:
Avoid proverbs, idioms, metaphors and analogies.
Refrain from making jokes
Never use SARCASM or IRONY. Best treat her the same as you would someone from New England.
If you wish to encourage her development:
TEACH her to read and write
Let her have some free time AND BUY HER a novel.
Take her to the THEATRE
Cut out newspaper reports of POLITICAL SPEECHES. Read them together. Discuss what they could POSSIBLY mean.
And while I would not wish to criticise how you run your household, there may be some room for improvement in your time management. The phrase “awhile ago” suggests a lack of urgency akin to writing to the ship’s captain rather than shouting ‘Man Overboard!’
My oven keeps burning my dinners. What am I doing wrong?
Hungry from Hove
YOU FORGOT to employ a cook
Tales of the rising consumption of alcohol distress me greatly as does the parlous wellbeing of our very young, and I wonder sometimes if the two might not be links in a chain I have observed a rather renegade uncle holding my baby sister on his knee and jogging her up and down, pressing upon her to take of some of the whisky he was drinking.
I think this to be wrong and I very nearly said something to my parents.
Euphemia aged nine years, three months and two days
YOUR UNCLE is an old fool who should know better, but WON’T .
The next time there is such occurrence take matters into YOUR OWN HANDS and scoop up baby sister. (I imagine you are the kind of capable girl well used to scooping.)
Announce in a loud voice “Oh! GRACIOUS ME. I think she is going to be sick!” and take her away to somewhere you can play together nicely.
What I do not suggest you do is ATTEMPT to reason with grown ups.
They will take any amount of foot stamping and lower-lip-trembling, but once you introduce LOGICAL ARGUMENT their minds will close tight shut and their faces will turn stony.
You suffer TWO grave disadvantages.
You are very young and you are very female. When you are RIGHT they will hold it against you and when you are wrong they will NEVER let you forget.
However, you also benefit from TWO great advantages.
You are young and FIRED with the enthusiasm and ENEGRGY of youth. You are female which means you are intellectually supple and NATURALLY observant.
Think of these two attributes as your secret powers.
Use them well and when you grow up you could become anything, even a housekeeper.
I’ve been clearing out the wardrobes at The Regency Town House. They need a good airing. Some of Mrs Hankey’s dresses would benefit from more studious attention. A stitch here perhaps, a seam taken OUT there…a hem taken UP.
Master Peregrine (the retired riding master at Number 61) hasn’t set a date for our dinner yet. Certain things have to be put in place…I have no idea what, but I am assured it will be soon.
This dress fell off the hanger while I was SPRING CLEANING.
Sweetly pretty, don’t you agree? I think the colour is SUNSET vermillion. But too cold for this time of the year…
This one also had trouble staying on the HANGER. I would say the shade is SPILT TUMERIC. It looks warm and those SLEEVES would come in useful…but the fixed waist not so much
Ah, I think I have fallen in love…very roomy skirt. The colour is not midnight blue, more like HALF-PAST-NINE-on-a-spring-evening-blue. Is the belt STRICTLY necessary? I don’t want to look as though I have been POURED into my dress and forgotten to say ‘when’…
DEAR READERS, could you help me choose? Or perhaps you have suggestions of your own? (And Tiffany in Canada I am relying on you – I hope this post reaches you through the snow drifts.)
I need something appropriate for a respectable housekeeper in her MIDDLING YEARS who will be dining out for the first time in….memory.
I wish I knew the menu. Imagine a TRICKLE of white sauce against that blue! Perhaps I should be looking for something more SERVICEABLE. It’s often said that DUST COLOURED gowns are good for all occasions if you are a housekeeper. Would you agree?
WHAT else is happening in Brunswick Square? My dears, I haven’t an idea! As I wrote those words Master Peregrine’s housekeeper-cum-only-maid knocked on the door with a note.
Master P wants to know if I’ve ever used a conversation tube.
What a very odd question.
Mrs Finnegan is the creation of Bridget Whelan and Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook
HAVING TROUBLE REMEMBERING WHEN IT’S TUESDAY?
A SPECIAL MESSENGER SERVICE can deliver every episode of The Finnegan Chronicles to you EVERY Tuesday. DOESN’T THAT SOUND GOOD?
ENTIRELY FREE OF CHARGES, TAXES and TIPS.