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What is Mrs Finnegan Doing? Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper Explains All

Yes, I know.

It’s a disappointment to myself as well as you that I am not yet able to RESUME normal service as Master Peregrine’s accounts still demand my attention. I have, however, not ONLY discovered numerous errors and several seriously bad decisions, but also a quantity of unpaid invoices concerning money that is owing to him. I wasn’t expecting that.

He was too much of a gentleman to pursue them he told me, but luckily he didn’t marry a gentlewoman. So far, all I have to do is pay a SINGLE visit to the shameless bill-dodger and they pay up as sweetly as a stick of month old rhubarb.

It’s a novelty being a creditor, but please do not think that I act like one of those foul-mouthed, door-thumping fellows. I assure you that I do nothing that would be UNBECOMING to a Brunswick Square housekeeper. In my experience all I need do is threaten another visit.

I may have already hinted that I an not ACTUALLY resuming normal service. I will be offering an entirely NEW service the like of which you have not seen before.

When? you ask. Very, very soon is my reply.

(I just have to meet a Southwark horse dealer with the heart of a spider, grab hold of a few ferret-faced idlers and hunt down a handful of fly-by-night customers who have to face me and my ready reckoner.)

I shall tell you more about the changes next week. That is a promise.

Meanwhile let us look back together at a favourite from the summer of 1833 when Worn Out from Weybridge wrote to me in great distress. I felt for her, I really did.

Dear Mrs Finnegan

PLEASE DO NOT THINK me impertinent to claim a bond when I am a mere follower of your wise words, but I am in sore need of advice and feel you will understand. I will speak plainly. Can an old woman wear make up?

We have just purchased a new mirror at considerable expense and I was mightily pleased until it was put up. Now I much prefer the ancient, cracked one. It did not reveal so many wrinkles or the sallowness of my skin. What to do when I stare at the harsh reflection staring back at me?

Mrs Finnegan replies

Dear Worn Out

The problem is that we are too young to be this old.

Your mirror is not unkind, merely truthful and that can be a CRUELTY to women of a certain age.

You and I GREW UP in the era of porcelain skin, dramatic brows, dark eyes and rosy red cheeks. And the beauty spots! Do you remember those FIDDLY BITS of silk and velvet that would come off at the MOST inconvenient time? (I heard of women using mouse skins, but never met one who did.)

I do not ENVY young women today, denied all artifice (except the merest dab of rouge). IN OUR DAY we knew how to hide what nature had BESTOWED and I do not believe that MATURE WOMEN should be such slavish followers of fashion as to deprive themselves of a LITTLE COVERAGE.

I am NOT suggesting the white lead paint of our youth, NOR the dusting of WHEAT FLOUR we applied in the days when we had to count every penny twice, but rather the discreet use of talcum powder (with or without zinc oxide added to the mix. Experiment, dear lady, experiment!).

You should see a pleasing result in your new mirror and once you have a suitably pale face that old faithful, the pot of rouge cream, can come out.

But you may need more than a dab.

(I wonder how Mrs Worn Out is getting on with the talcum powder.)

Now would be an excellent time to sign up for Mrs Finnegan’s subscription service. Click HERE.
It costs nothing so there is no need worry that she will come KNOCKING at your door.

However, you will be alerted to when the ink is dry on her latest MISSIVE.

What could be nicer?

2 comments on “What is Mrs Finnegan Doing? Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper Explains All

  1. beth
    March 14, 2023

    We’ll she is certainly a woman of many talents! And love her makeup advice )

  2. bridget whelan
    March 14, 2023

    I’m out to buy some talcum power right now.

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