for writers and readers….
My husband was killed during the French wars and since then I’ve been a cook in several households. Some weeks ago I had the occasion to visit the local butcher for two saddles of mutton. When he went into the back of the shop I became aware of the butcher’s boy looking at me shyly. When I returned his look he blushed deeply.
He is a young man of 17 or so years: strong in aspect, broad chested with well-muscled arms, clear skin and a fine shock of fair hair. Apart from the blueness of his eyes, and a mole on the left side of his forehead, I must say I hardly noticed him.
I asked the mutton to be delivered to the house the next day. By coincidence, the butcher’s boy arrived at the same time I was trying on a new fichu and again flushed deeply. Since then he has delivered meat to me on a daily basis and finds it hard to meet my eyes.
On the last occasion I was surprised to find a single red rose poked into one of the tubes of the sheep’s heart and a poorly written note asking if he could walk out with me after church on Sunday.
What shall I do?
Worried Waterloo Street Widow
I think you need LITTLE ADVICE from me, my dear. They are not long, the days of mutton and roses…
This is my first position and the Rule here is that we all have to put our cutlery down when the butler stops eating. And he is such a terribly fast eater! The rest of the servants have learned to bolt their food too, but my mother taught me to savour every mouthful and to chew at least 10 times. I try to eat faster but I can’t.
I look at the dogs in the street fighting over a bone and think they are better fed than I am. Please help.
Hungry Hester from Hangleton
The butler’s rule cannot be THWARTED. You must respect his pace of eating and learn to ADAPT. But learning can be slow and there is NO NEED to starve in the meantime.
ACQUIRE a decent piece of material about 12 inches square (or take some USED parchment that once wrapped butter if you can find it which I expect you can’t.) Keep it in your POCKET. At dinner time put your square of material on your lap. Without fuss or drawing attention to yourself SLIP PORTIONS of the meal onto your lap. Fold it up in the material and put it in your pocket. Then eat as much of what remains on your plate as you can. You can consume your scraps parcel at YOUR LEISURE later. Wash out the CLOTH, dry it overnight and you are ready for another meal time.
It is important for young people to have goals and I RECOMMEND the following for you:
Short Term Goals
Learn to eat food COLD
Learn to eat food WITHOUT gravy
Medium Term Goal
Learn to eat at the SAME PACE as the rest of the staff
Long Term Goal
BECOME a cook.
I DO APPRECIATE the many, many letters that have arrived offering sympathy and consolation on last week’s events. Some included Master Peregrine in their GOOD WISHES and I have passed these comments on. All of them mention the food and yes, I have WOKEN AT NIGHT and thought of pistachio ice cream, but the sorrow is easing as all sorrow must.
There are a few who do not seem to understand the CONFIDENTIAL NATURE of these communications and PERHAPS too much of my VERY PRVATE life is bandied about the Square. To those (and they know who they are) I have just one question. Why does no one gossip about a person’s SECRET virtues?
And to the housekeeper at number 59 there’s an OLD IRISH SAYING that you might like: beware the anger of a patient woman. (Yes, in the original it is patient man, but they MEANT woman.)
If you’re not sure to what I am referring. It is of no importance, dear NEW reader, although you can CATCH UP here and here.
And here would be good too. But really it of NO IMPORT.
I put off the new “governess” moving in for another week. I said her pupil was delayed. Non existent would be more ACCURATE. A figment of my imagination would be better still.
Two readers have written to say I have forgotten to MENTION they mysterious lady’s name and could I please include it this time. Not so. I have forgot her name entirely. Clarissa? Alicia? Letitia? Amaryllis? I was TOLD IT once. I fear it may have been more than once. Eloise? Fiorentina? Theodosia?
I could not TOLERATE the situation any longer. It had to be faced. So I met her in the Square, armed with slate and chalk. The spelling of her name was a little tricky, I said. I wanted to get it exactly right, I said. A name is precious thing, I added. It should be RESPECTED by others, especially if it is slightly unusual or requires an unfamiliar pronunciation. I may have spoken AT LENGTH on the subject.
She was charmed to write her name upon my slate (That will be handy for the SCHOOLROOM, she said. O Lordy, what have I got myself into?)
So we have it. Her name is SUSAN
No other news EXCEPT a reader from Australia has written to me. She is subscribing to my chronicles (see below) Yes, TRULY! I would like to take this opportunity to send a special message to ANNE. Happy Christmas! (I expect that’s when the ship will arrive.)
Mrs Finnegan is the creation of Bridget Whelan and Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook
HAVING TROUBLE REMEMBERING WHEN IT’S TUESDAY?
Solve the problem with a SPECIAL MESSENGER SERVICE that will deliver EVERY episode of The Finnegan Chronicles to you EVERY Tuesday.
ENTIRELY FREE OF CHARGES, TAXES and TIPS.
A fast, efficient service. Wonderfully quiet too. The horses hardly make a sound on the cobbles.
Miss C.H. of Rottingdean
To be honest, I’d rather forget all about Tuesdays.
Sir S. U. F.
I read every word and spend the rest of the week writing to Mrs Finnegan.