BRIDGET WHELAN writer

for writers and readers….

Today it’s (nearly) All about the Dress — the Brighton Regency Housekeeper has a lot on her mind

Mrs Finnegan – the Celebrated ADVICE giver and housekeeper at The Regency Town House is preoccupied and can reply to ONLY one reader this week.
However, SHE notes:
It’s just rolled over into March.

It has never not been March.
It will always be March.
And asks: do you know the feeling?

I have recently become betrothed to the handsomest man alive. He is courteous, complimentary and kind. However there is a problem. His breath. It smells of a mixture of rotten eggs, seaweed and the pig pen on my Grand mama’s farm. What can I do?
As he approaches me with  puckered lips I find myself turning away my head.  He thinks I’m being coy and yet I long to feel his lips on mine. Should I tell him? And how to do this without causing offence plagues my every waking moment. In all other matters the man is adorable. Please help.
Lucy in Love from Lulworth

WHAT A PICTURE you paint of oral offence!
Something has to be done. If you cannot bear his kisses now in the first SWEET bloom of romance, what will it be like in three years time WITH TWO CHILDREN crawling around your feet when he has lost his looks through worry and you seem to spend most of your day up to your arms in COLD water doing the household chores?
Get your man to chew on FRESH parsley morning, noon and night. I suggest you grow your own. Cloves are a good SUBSTITUTE.
Buy him a toothbrush. I am told the very finest are French with boar’s bristles from Siberia. Make do with wooden one with SUSSEX pig hair.
Make him use it.
He should also SWIRL a mouthwash made from good spring water and salt. Or Apple CIDER. Or Rosemary. Or Sage. Or Thyme. Or baking SODA.
(He can spit it out if he likes, but it won’t hurt a bit if he SWALLOWS it down.)
ALL this is easy.
The hardest thing is to TELL HIM he has a problem.
You could drop hints but I doubt he will pick them up. You could MENTION a friend with the problem, but your Beau will not recognise himself in the description.
Do THE BRAVE THING and tell him. Show him the letter you wrote to me. Let him see my REPLY.
Surely, he will think to himself – was ever a MAN so loved? Was ever a man SO in need of a BUNCH of parsley?

Yours respectfully
Mrs Finnegan

My letter box RUNNETH OVER.
Thank you each and everyone for writing with advice on WHAT dress I should wear when I dine with Master Peregrine, the retired riding master.
I have published the best BELOW. If your missive doesn’t appear here well, my dear, you will have to try HARDER next time…

Mary S on my comment that dust-coloured dresses are the most serviceable and, perhaps, are what a housekeeper OUGHT to choose.
Which dust? An industrial city with sooty black dust or a more rural region where tractors throw red clay dust into the air? You’d look lovely in brick red.
A woman of quiet discernment. (But perhaps not OVERLY educated – when she wrote tractors I think she meant ploughs)

E McD wrote:
Am partial to the dove grey myself, but dust is also a good all round colour. Both can be dressed up or down with the right accessories.
Dove grey is not an OPTION as the Mistress does not possess a dress in that colour. And she has taken her accessories with her.

I seem to have lost the contact details for this one. No doubt it was PENNED by that great woman author ANON
Well Mrs Finnegan, it certainly isn’t the modest attire suitable for a housekeeper on a first date but life is short – wear the vermilion!
Ah, she has a point….

Master Craig J-B is also CONCERNED with modesty.
The blue suggests grace and modesty in equal measure.
Two worthy virtues, although on balance I prefer tenacity and PERSPICACITY

Anna H. offers HIGHLY PRACTICAL advice with a very nice turn of phrase (I suspect she MAY be a housekeeper herself)
The TURMERIC, I think, Mrs Finnegan. It will be less affected by any minor SPILL – although I am sure you would not cause such – and it’s BRIGHT, CHEERFUL pattern and will bring a CONVIVIAL air to the occasion. I shall look forward to reading how the occasion goes.
Mrs H. I’m already writing it in my head…

Maria G was of the same mind.
Definitely the spilt turmeric!
Thank you again for making me laugh.

I do hope that one day all your letters will be published in a book.
While I fail to understand how you can FIND amusement in my dilemma, your last comment bathed me in such warmth and HOPE I can forgive you. I suspect you are young and innocent of the world. And EASILY pleased.

Dana was precise with her advice….
I have a great liking for the blue. It has a commanding presence.
Interesting. Do you think my presence needs added COMMAND?

Shân L wrote with VIM and vigour…
The blue! The blue! Such a beautiful, flattering colour (I do believe that in years to come many more people will come to realize that ‘indigo’ as I believe it is sometimes called should be a staple in EVERY wardrobe).
As a Housekeeper you need a dress with dignity and a touch of majesty. This dress has the potential to inspire awe in the beholder….on the right woman.
As a postscript I must also note that it looks as if it would be the most comfortable of the three to eat in. Do you really want vermilion tassels dangling from your armpits as you dine? Better saved for dancing. As for the mustard, that fixed waist is, as you already know, simply asking for trouble and Epsom Salts later.

Ah, the tassels…quite so.
And as for needing bitter PURGING salts, I shudder at the thought

Lee also APPROVED of the blue
…the rich hue shows the quality. Perhaps a fetching fichu as a preventative against stains?
A capital idea! A fichu is a solution to MANY PROBLEMS.
This is the kind I wore in my youth

Now, alas, this is more like the fichu of my middling years…(but not the cap, NEVER the cap)

Madam T from Canada wrote with sage advice (I’m always surprised when her letters are not cold to the touch. I FEEL they ought to arrive still dusted with snowflakes)
I believe the sunset vermillion might be a bit too ‘flashy’, perhaps more for a ball.
The second dress in the turmeric colour is pretty, but I see that very delicate waist….Maybe that dress is better suited for a lovely walk on the promenade.
But the midnight blue dress is a very pretty shade. I also think that sitting in candle light or lamp light with such a dress might be very flattering to one’s face.
Also, if the evening is cooler, you will not suffer any chills as the neckline is covering nicely.
Much to ponder on (although the correct term for that particular shade is half past nine blue)
I am wondering why Master Peregrine asked if you had used a conversation tube. My imagination is wondering how very long the dinner table will be… I am very curious.

So am I. Master Peregrine is known to be very HEALTH conscious which is a VERY good thing and I wish more would follow his example. And we are living in a time of contagion…
Even so I am not sure what he has in mind. I do not believe the dining room at Number 61 Brunswick Square is over large.

PS
I have to REPORT that I shall NOT be wearing the Sunset Vermillion. Or the Split Turmeric. Or even – sigh – the Half Past Nine blue.
The mistress, Mrs Hankey, is of DIFFERENT PROPORTIONS to myself. She is UNFASHIONABLY narrower and inconveniently taller. I am a clever needlewoman, but have discovered I am not clever ENOUGH to make alterations she would not NOTICE on her return.
SUNDAY best dusty-grey gown it is. More pigeon then dove. More ordinary than opulent. More worn than winsome but BUT…
I am still going to dinner.

ARE YOU WORRIED… that you may miss an episode of The Finnegan Chronicles.
A highly qualified, quality SPECIAL messenger service can deliver the latest instalment to you EVERY TUESDAY. Rain or shine. Blizzard or sand storm.

ENTIRELY FREE of charges, fees, taxes, tips etc.
Mrs Finnegan would refuse if you offered.
Offer again and she will be offended.
Offer again…don’t go there. Please
Click HERE to make sure you find out what happens when Mrs Finnegan goes to dinner…

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

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