for writers and readers….
A very SPECIAL MESSAGE from Mrs Finnigan this week. The celebrated authority on LOVE, LIFE AND LAUNDRY is CELEBRATING her first year as housekeeper at The Regency Town House with a new publication.
My mail bag is BULGING and I crave the forgiveness of THE LONELY AND BROKEN-HEARTED and the lady from North Laine who has bed bugs as you will not receive a response THIS WEEK. Know that I am thinking of you all and a letter will be in the post by and by… (And T.C of Putney, DON’T SCRATCH no matter what you friend says.) But this SATURDAY coming – the twentieth day of March – marks the anniversary of my arrival in Brunswick Square.
Good advice is often ignored but that’s no reason not to give it.
This week instead of offering advice to a few needy souls I have decided to mark this anniversary BY ADVISING ALL of you in one SWOOP. I intend to SPREAD IT around as A GIFT. What can it be? I hear you ask – more on that in a moment because I suspect another question may be BURNING your lips.
IS IT REALLY FREE?
I am NOT ASHAMED to admit that IN THE PAST I have been tempted by the offer of a gratuitous carrot for the stock pot only to find that I have somehow contracted to purchase a BUSHEL of cabbages.
But Mrs Finnegan is not a DEALER IN TRICKERY or sharp practice. Rest easy. The cost is not a Guinea, nor yet a florin. It is not even a bright new penny with the King’s head on it. It is a gift freely given. With WARM affection.
Some readers like the advice I give so much they frame it and pin it on the wall instead of using it.
I did not think TWELVE MONTHS AGO I would be living in isolated splendour instead of running the household as smoothly as a JACQUARD LOOM. It has, however, given me the opportunity to peruse the Master’s library and my studies HAVE BEEN devoted to your service.
A Guide like no other. ONLY useful rules included – a twaddle-free publication.
HATE socialising? You cannot afford to be without your copy. It clearly explains how QUICKLY you may leave after DINNER.
Scared of doing the wrong thing? There is only one CORRECT SPEED TO eat at (and FOUR that will send out the entirely WRONG message)
GENTLEMEN order your copy – it will be an EDUCATION – but on no account follow these rules.
But Lord O Lord! My head is very full at present…is there a more suitable word than thoughts? It’s such a small, INSIGNIFICANT word for what’s hammering away inside my scull. Have you ever felt like this? AS THOUGH your head is a CARP POND at feeding time?
Or else like A BIG SUSSEX SKY with starlings zipping and zagging and making merry with the clouds.
First, there is my own NEW GUEST to consider.
She has yet to take up residence. I said there was NO RUSH and no truer word can have been uttered throughout the kingdom! After all, she is engaged to teach a child that does not EXIST. She has, however, sent over a very heavy trunk, locked, and a list of her dietary needs, long.
She is not eating BREAKFAST at the moment (aha!) except for two lightly coddled eggs, and three slices of wheat bread scorched GOLDEN brown with peach jam (if available), damson if not. Failing that, marmalade is required, made from Andalusian LEMONS and Seville oranges with peel cut “EXCESSIVELY thick”.
I haven’t read the rest.
The girl had BETTER BE who the Mistress thinks she is – naught else would excuse SUCH EXCESSIVE demands. And I wonder if she’s getting such attention at the D’Arthur establishment at Number 60. I think NOT.
And I wonder something else.
The girl wears a WEDNESDAY FACE all week long, but maybe she is every bit the villain Mrs Hankey paints her and I was loath to believe.
It’s the coddled eggs that have DONE IT for me. I’ve never managed a DECENT coddle in my long years. Poached would have been bad enough – I make no fist of that either – but at least I live in hope with poached. Coddled is a good egg RUINED before the shell’s broken.
Be yourself is the worst advice you can give some people
I wonder what I have let myself in for,
I wonder if Mrs Hankey has read my letter, explaining all.
I wonder if she is – at this very moment – dashing off a reply in that lazy copperplate of hers. (VERY POORLY formed Ss in my opinion and her Ps and Gs are little better) .
The best advice I’ve ever given:- if you have to sing, sing loudly. (And it doesn’t only apply to opera singers)
I wonder what Saturday evening will bring. It is, after all not JUST the anniversary of our acquaintance (THOSE with me from the very start, I salute you!)
The second best advice I’ve ever given (perhaps I could phrase that better):- if you do something, something happens
It is the night of THE DINNER. With Mr Peregrine. You can’t have forgotten! Such AN EXTRAORDINARY treat! Such a rare event! I wish I had refused the invitation.
Have you not felt the same, dear reader – that something precious is a burden? The wanting of it and the waiting for it – are not these mental torments we would better be without? Do we NEED our hearts to KICK AGAINST OUR RIBCAGES
Perhaps I should seek a QUIET LIFE for Mrs Finnegan, absent of excitement and intrigue, with every day the same as the one JUST GONE and the strongest emotion experienced is the GRATIFICATION that comes from knowing I have dusted thoroughly.
Perhaps we need to put our best bonnets on and grab ourselves a share of the life that lies beyond the front door. I SHALL GO to dinner on Saturday with my guide in my pocket (it folds up very neatly) to REMIND MYSELF of my own research and the hours spent with Self-Improvement Guides and Etiquette books. (Grab is a little too strong. Is take more ladylike? Acquire? Accept. I will go back to my books and check, but I do have a liking for grab that I cannot easily shake off.)
You may have no need of HOW TO BE A GUEST now, if so put it aside in a SAFE PLACE. Trust me, there will SOON come a time when you will be invited to dine away from home with someone WITH WHOM you do not live. My Guide has useful advice on what to do (and what not to do) with bon-bons and will give you the confidence you need. What I have to say on the subject of napkins is QUITE radical.
Click HERE for your copy.
Good advice is what a woman gives when she’s too old to set a bad example…
Mrs Finnegan is the creation of Bridget Whelan and Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook