for writers and readers….
Mrs Finnegan is the Celebrated Authority on affairs of the HEART, FAMILY LIFE and HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT in addition to being housekeeper of The Regency Town House.
People often ask me why I am a housekeeper.
They say it in different ways:-
WHY are you a housekeeper?
Why are YOU a housekeeper?
Why are you a HOUSEKEEPER?
I have finally come up with an answer because, of course, there are other things that I COULD have been or would liked to have been. (Top of the list is house OWNER by the way).
Most of us, most of the time, wake up each morning to obligations we never chose. The same was true for me until one day I decided to choose those obligations. So, I can now say with a certain amount of pride and QUITE A LOT of dignity
THEREFORE I am
I have chosen it.
My boy is a sweet, gentle, loving lad, who – when not engaged in school work – likes to play quietly with his spinning top. The other day he asked if we can get a puppy!! Is anything more disruptive and dirty than a puppy! My lad says he wants a companion to play with and take out for walks. Am I not enough company for him?
How can I deal with this abomination of a request?
Devoted Mama from Didling
I shall answer your questions in turn.
1) Yes, quite a few things. MEN for instance. Puppies do not consume alcohol, BRAG about the size of their last wager at the race course, or declare undying love before absconding with your best tea pot and/or the lady next door. (The latter happened to HER at number 59)
2) As his Mama, you are so extraordinarily SPECIAL that it is hard to encompass into words. EVEN so, you are not ENOUGH. Nor should you be.
REMEMBER, you are his mother not his friend. Do not resent this. He will have dozens of friends as he goes through life, maybe the same number of puppies, but only one mother.
3) GIVE in.
You may think that with all the EXCITEMENT over the dinner invitation from the riding master (retired) at Number 61 I have QUITE forgotten to take note of what is happening at Number 60. But reader do not doubt me, I have not NEGLECTED my study of Madam D’Arthur. Some people age like good Burgundy, OTHERS like milk. One glance will tell you which category Madam falls into.
Her son Monsieur Étienne is all GOOD LOOKS and flowing locks. I trust neither of them, but my real concern is their mysterious young LODGER. I have already introduced myself as the housekeeper at the Hankey residence and I hoped that would be ENOUGH for her to engineer a meeting. If she is who I THINK she is we have a lot to talk about…
Yesterday, dear reader, that is exactly what HAPPENED.
And I was in SORE NEED of conversation for I have not spoken to anyone in days. The LAST person was the night soil man when I HAPPENED to mention in passing that he was perhaps getting a LITTLE untidy in his work. I was tired. I MIGHT have said slovenly. That word MIGHT have passed my lips, but you should have heard the words that SPEWED out of his. As a woman of great refinement – my upbringing was of the finest although we did not have the INCOME to match it – I have yet to discover the MEANING of all the words he employed with such energy, but I FEEL I may need to use them myself one day. One never knows what you might need in your ARSENAL.
The encounter left me OUT of sorts for if I were to have one RULE FOR LIVING well it would be NEVER fall out with the night soil men. I digress. It is ENOUGH to know that an unexpected knock on the basement door was very WELCOME.
And there SHE was – the lodger from number 60, ALL pale and trembling. I do not know what the weather is like where you are, but in Brunswick Square it was one of those MARCH MORNINGS when the sun shines hot and the wind BLOWS cold. It is ALMOST like summer in the light and very much like winter in the shade. She was NOT DRESSED for it and I ushered her into the warmth of the housekeeper’s room and made her welcome with a cup of GOOD tea. She drank it so greedily I wondered what they give her at Number 60. A flavourless brew CRAFTED from cheap leaves that had made three or four cups already, I’ll be bound. What I offered came from Mrs Hankey’s OWN tea caddy which I must REMEMBER the replenish before her return.
Was I sitting in front of the WRETCHED GIRL wooed and ruined by the eldest son of the Hankey family? Mrs Hankey bade me LOOK out for her, convinced she was out to besmirch the family name in the cheaper news sheets or weave a BLACKMAILING scheme that would reap her a fortune. I was ordered to offer the girl a position in the household so an EYE could be kept on her – my eye, unfortunately.
Was I about to RECRUIT a new under parlour maid?
The girl looked in need of something. Those with low natures and a curious turn of mind may want to know if the young woman is in a delicate CONDITION. I do not know. All I can say is that her coat was very full AND her visit brief.
I asked where she came from.
FAR, she said, which is what the wronged girl would say. “From a hotter CLIME”, she added. “I am not used to such coldness as I have found in this country.” Well, that could could be true in two WAYS. The Hankeys are cold people.
BUT doesn’t that sound like the West Indies to you?
I DECIDE not to ask any direct questions about the island where Thompson Hankey junior was working HIS MISCHEIF scared that I would give TOO MUCH away.
I am in search of employment, the girl said STRETCHING her hands out to the fire. I noticed that they were white and UNBLEMISHED, the skin soft. They had never scrubbed a table clean with harsh LYLE. Her voice was SWEET and low with a slight accent that I did not recognise. Oh dear me, she was NOT under parlour maid material.
I told her that there might be an opening in the household.
“With the Hankeys?” The name meant something to her right enough, she could not HIDE IT.
“What are you trained for?” I asked.
“A useless life,’ she said and LOOKED AWAY. “But I could be a governess. I think I might be able for that.”
What could I do, dear reader.
In a THRICE, I made up an orphaned niece that might well be COMING to stay in the nearness of time. And a classroom THAT needed to be prepared…
I’m not entirely sure WHAT ELSE I said in the heat of invention. I may have added another child…THIS MUCH I DO know:
I have engaged a governess for a child that does not exist
I have agreed a SALARY only slightly less than my own.
The governess requires ALL meals to be cooked for her and TO BE of a good quality,
She moves in tomorrow.
AND some how Mrs Hankey has to be told.
I have ONE question. How is this going to turn out well for Mrs Finnegan?
Master Peregrine has set a date for our dinner. March 20th – the very day last year that I moved into Brunswick Square. You can re-live that precious day HERE
Follow @_Mrs_Finnegan on twitter She’s there every day – she just CAN’T keep away.
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This is a regular feature created and written with Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook