for writers and readers….
The CELEBRATED Mrs Finnegan, the leading housekeeper of her generation, is finding the atmosphere at The Regency Town House rather wearisome of late.
A tailor I was once, as blithe as ever need be,
Until love, alas! Has a devil sure made of me.
Her name is Susan, it is she that I love
Since meeting her I cannot even sew a glove
Cupid’s arrow has struck, not a stich can be done
There’s a slit in my heart a side-pocket long
If I had courage I’d pick up my tailoring scissors
And plunge them in deep right down to my livers
Mrs Finnegan what to do, bash out on your cymbal
Notes of wisdom to a love-sick knight of the thimble.
Thady Thompson of Tamworth
O fie and fiddlesticks! SOUR rhubarb and ditch water to you, Sir!
You have not met Susan. She is SURE of it. We BOTH surmise that what you HAVE met is her portrait published not infrequently in this CHRONICLE. Here it is again.
Although you think YOURSELF a lovesick knight, I can tell you that it is no more possible to FALL in love with a picture than it is to MARRY a donkey cart.
I know all about love – the depth of it and the MUDDLED complexity of it.
Fall is such a good word because that is what you do. You tumble and somersault. You are flung into an ocean of emotion (you see Sir, YOU are not the only one who can PLAY with rhymes.)
You plummet for a person.
You only TRIP over a THING.
Miss Susan has asked me to respectfully inform you that she has QUITE a lot occurring in her life at the present and cannot consider any romantic involvement of ANY degree at the moment.
Which is a MUCH kinder way of saying what I TOLD you in my first sentence.
YOU ADVISED on the eating of peas in your last missive. My family would be grateful if you could do the same about apples as we have been told we’ve been doing it wrong.
Mr and Mrs Peacock of Pyecombe
I don’t know why this obsession with eating has SPRUNG UP of late, but here is the information you require.
In your OWN home with no guests: GRASP at the ends. Bite. Rotate. Repeat.
In someone else’s home or in front of people you wish to IMPRESS: Stab with a fork. CUT into quarters. Peel if you MUST. Eat with a fork.
I’m on the east side of irritable today, but I’m hiding it WELL.
There’s no rest from the turmoil in the house and I am SO VERY weary of it. Mrs Hankey has gone to visit friends in Tunbridge Wells for a few days and I don’t BLAME her.
I have half a mind that Master Thompson Senior would have liked to gone with her, but she DIDN’T give him the chance. When she LEFT he looked as limp as a daffodil in June.
Dear Miss Martha will be BACK next week. Perhaps she can sort the mess out. It is beyond my powers.
Her mother has written to her. Unfortunately, the wax seal was applied a LITTLE too firmly (the mistress has a heavy hand) and I have no idea what was said. I believe Miss Susan has also written.
Perhaps Miss Martha needs an UNBIASED account of what is happening from someone sensitive and wise beyond her income. I will write tonight. She will be SO grateful.
It TURNS OUT that Miss Susan has been reading my weekly column for quite some time.
It ALSO turns out that Miss Susan is not an unmarried mother after all. She was brought up and educated by the New York couple who had RESCUED her mother from slavery and she married the son of their cousin. He WAS in St Vincent on business when he caught Yellow Fever and died. Nothing good comes out of slave islands, she said dry-eyed, but her hand was trembling when she showed me a miniature of her James.
You never said you were a widow, I said in wonderment. WHY would she let us believe she was disgraced? Susan didn’t give me an answer, not a proper one, but said that she only discovered what we thought ABOUT her through reading my WEEKLY chronicles. I have been devoted to THEM ever since I arrived in Brunswick Square, she said with a smile.
I must look back at what I wrote. By nature discreet to a fault, it’s POSSIBLE I may have let the odd unfortunate phrase slip…perhaps even said too much.
She told me that all she was CONCERNED about at the time was to somehow find a way into this house. And you offered me a non-existent job at a very good wage, she murmured. I shall NEVER forget that, Mrs Finnegan. We were getting on so well I felt able to RISK asking what she wanted.
“When I first came here I wanted to avenge my mother for all she had suffered. I wanted to bring down a storm upon my father’s head. I wanted punishment.”
“And I just want justice.”
It was with a heavy heart that I completed my usual circumference of Brunswick Square this morning. I noticed the step at Number 59 was in need of a good scrubbing. That housekeeper never stops surprising me.
There were gentle violas poking their heads out of a Portland stone urn at 62 and a crying baby at 63.
Suddenly a note was thrust into my hand by an errand boy who gave it to me with a cheeky tug on his cap. I recognised the handwriting. Master Peregrine, the retired riding master, must have spotted me from his window and scribbled a message. I looked back and saw the sleeve of his blue jacket waving up and down.
He had written
Hurrah for plummeting
I was puzzled for a moment and then remembered that as a resident of Brunswick Square he gets a copy of my chronicles a good HOUR before you, dear reader.
I probably won’t write to Miss Martha tonight. I need to consider a reply. Something short and amusing, don’t you think?
oh, boy she is just the center of one adventure after another, not of her choosing
Yep, that’s the way it goes. Amd she only wants a quiet life…
Plummet away, sir!
Should be on t-shirts.
An amusing cartoon depicting tailors, but Mrs Finnegan! you have been remiss in not explaining the caption ‘hot goose, cabbage and cucumbers’ to readers less well-versed in the specialist slang of the tailor’s profession but oft used now without the user being aware of the origin. A goose is a long iron used by tailors [not depicted; both tailors and the prentice boy have ordinary sad irons]. Cabbage is money, and cucumber is the sad state of not being paid, a not uncommon occurance for the poor tailor, hence one is ‘cucumberish’ when out of pocket.
I watch Susan’s schemes with deep interest.
Mrs Finnegan was under the impression that goose, cabbages & cucumbers were a tailor’s favourite repast and once asked for the reicpe.