for writers and readers….

Alas, All My Friends Are Authors! A reader Complains to Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper

When you have a problem who are you going to ask for help?
For Raife, the reluctant reader, it had to be
 Mrs Finnegan, the celebrated housekeeper at THE REGENCY TOWN HOUSE 

WHAT TO DO when all your friends are authors?
That is not a problem you have Mrs Finnegan, but I can tell you it has ALMOST brought ruin upon me.

I find it quite an effort of memory to remember everything they have written, and terribly expensive to buy their books on my pension.

Worst still, I have to lay them on the table conspicuously whenever they visit, pretend to have read them and offer a few approriate words of praise: couldn’t put it down, brought a tear to my eye, made this old heart beat faster and so forth.

I used to love reading MRS FINNEGAN, but life is simply too short.

Should I feign an eye disease, set fire to my library or start writing myself?
Raife, the reluctant reader

Mrs Finnegan Replies

Surely Sir, you jest.
I cannot think of anything more relaxing and refreshingly JOVIAL than to be surrounded by a circle of wordsmiths. Many would SAY that you pay a SMALL PRICE for their company.

Yet I appreciate the financial and intellectual STRAIN you are other. The simplest solution is usually the BEST and I suggest you become an ink slinger yourself.

It surely cannot be hard as so many seem to be doing it. All you have to do is make things up (preferably in three volumes).

If you are at a lost what to write, you could do no better than emulate The Brothers, or the Castle of Niolo by Robert Huish.

It opens with these dread words:

Could there be hewn a monstrous gap in Nature, A flaw made through the centre by some god, Through which the groans of ghosts might strike They would not wound thee as this story will.”

I look FORWARD to reading you. (I shall expect a dedication and can assist with the exact wording.)


I have NO DOUBT last week’s column is embedded in your memory and you do not NEED to be reminded that after the DASHING Daniel Dapper’s extraordinary advertisement the noble Brutus was returned to us.

And the man DOING the returning was none other than Master Peregrine Hinderbrace, Riding Master (retired)

How WAS that possible?
How didn’t I know about it BEFORE everyone else?
How much was the reward?
One Guinea meant he was the dastardly dog-napper (surely not) so it must be a full FIVE guineas, but was he going to DOUBLE his money and name the culprit?

You can be certain that I raced ACROSS the Square to support a dear friend.

I could not have gone faster had it been an iced mill pond and I already STRAPPED into a sturdy pair of skates, HAVING previously overcome my fear of falling over. That was how I QUICK I was, but I was still not the first.

Her at number 59 was ALREADY at Master Peregrine’s side asking an embarrassment of QUESTIONS.

Her bleating reminded me of a sheep with its head caught in the bars of a GATE and its feet in a clump of brambles.

Master Peregrine wisely kept his counsel until Daniel Dapper appeared, slightly dishevelled with his hair tousled and his (beautifully ironed) white shirt open at the neck. There was a gasp from the ladies behind me who no doubt also appreciated good laundry skills.

Dapper fell to his knees, buried his face into Brutus’ neck and rose just as quickly. He is a man who will age well. He never allows a smile to crease his face.

Turning towards Master Peregrine, he looked him up and down.
“Do I know you?”
“I live next door.”
“So, are you a thief or a fortunate finder?”

The words were dripping with the arsenic of sarcasm. It was no way to talk to a gentleman.

Master P remained CALM and said he found Brutus while rambling in the fields beyond Hove village.  Dapper called for man servant (and I presume the ironer of shirts) who counted out five guineas as if Master P was a tradesman! I returned to The Regency Town House to await news.

Fortunately, there was a prodigious amount of work to be done indoors and I hardly noticed the hourly and half hourly chimes of the long cased clock in the hall.

At LONG last a boy knocked on the door with a note from Master Peregrine. Would I call on him at my convenience?

I was untying my APRON as I read his spidery handwriting, but I paused when I discovered he wished to discuss the appointment of his new housekeeper. Apparently he was having TROUBLE with the 42 interview questions I suggested.

I had no intention of hurrying ACROSS the Square if our CONVERSATION was to be so tedious and it was a FULL three minutes before I presented myself at his door.

IN the meantime I observed Master Owen Talbot hurry away from the same DOOR wearing his smart green coat again, the rough grey jacket a THING of the past.

And I reflect that Master Peregrine ONCE told me that he had never rambled in his life and detested the very THOUGHT.

I know for a fact that he considers a STROLL to the sea end of Brunswick Square an extreme example of extraneous EXERCISE.

The Chronicles of Mrs Finnegan are a regular feature written by Bridget Whelan working with a CHARMING host of absolutely OUTSTANDING volunteers at The Regency Town House. This week a BIG THANK YOU to Paul Couchman

It will be a thing of the past once you sign up to the SPECIAL MESSENGER SERVICE  which tells you when the NEXT episode of The Finnegan Chronicles are ready to read.

All that is required is that you click HERE

6 comments on “Alas, All My Friends Are Authors! A reader Complains to Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper

  1. Sarah Waldock
    October 18, 2022

    the main question is not so much ‘who’ as ‘why?’

    • bridget whelan
      October 18, 2022

      Indeed, that is the question. I am confident that Mrs Finnegan will figure it out by next week.

  2. beth
    October 18, 2022

    who would have a problem with a mere 42 questions? red flag )

  3. Glen Available
    October 18, 2022

    Ok, this installment is jam-packed with the usual assortment of charming and slightly whacky (the entertaining version of whacky, of course!). My favorite?

    “You can be certain that I raced ACROSS the Square to support a dear friend. I could not have gone faster had it been an iced mill pond and I already STRAPPED into a sturdy pair of skates.”

    That’s fast.
    And that’s supportive.

    • bridget whelan
      October 19, 2022

      Thank you for your kind comments but I fear Mrs Finnegan may take exception to your applying the word whacky to her writing/activities if she recognised it which is unlikely…

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This entry was posted on October 18, 2022 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged .


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