for writers and readers….

Mrs Finnegan Begins Again — ANNOUNCING a Household Almanac for Brighton (and the World)

ALMANACS are a paper carnival of information covering everything from the movement of the stars to prophecies about crops and governments.

They have one universal failing, however, and that is VERY FEW women seem to be involved in the writing of them. Poor Richard’s efforts are famous, but where are the Hard Up Hannah’s offering education and advice? It is this hole in the market that I intend to fill. It is possible that others may follow in the inky footsteps of this humble housekeeper. Think of me as the the advance guard of a worthy literary endeavour…

My Almanac will have a CERTAIN Brightonian flavour. Although not a native, I have grown to love this Piccadilly of the Seaside, this Soho of the waves. I am not entirely sure what happiness is, but I think it must SMELL like Brighton on a spring morning when the wind blows from the south.

Fear not, the content will not only INTEREST those who live within sound of bleating Sussex lambs, it will also fascinate the dressmakers of East Kilbride, the shopkeepers of Wolverhampton and the farming community of Saskatchewan*. And YOU, dear reader, wherever you are.

Regular features include:

  • Saint of the Week
  • Practical household remedies
  • Recipes for TIRED Cooks
  • News that may not have reached you BY any other means
  • Historical events that ought not be forgotten


Occasional songs, poems and PITHY sayings and EVEN a few predictions when inspiration strikes.

*Scroll down to discover just how far my readership extends

March – a time of equal days and nights.

Here homeward bound partygoers are depicted crossing the paths of workers going out to another day of hard labour.
George Cruikshank, the notable and amusing London illustrator, drew it last year for The Comic Almanack and I am sure he would not mind my reproducing it here, but there’s no need to bring it to his attention.

Saint of the Week

March 29th is the feast day of St Gladys

Most of her story is lost in the foggy swirls of of time. All that seems certain is that she was a saint in 6th Century Wales. Gladys was also the wife of a saint and the mother of six saints. (Is it wrong of me to hope that she didn’t have seven children?)

Some accounts say that despite being royal (I forgot to mention that bit) husband and wife lived as hermits on a vegetarian diet and that King Arthur of the Round Table may have been involved in some way (not with their strange diet. I am sure he was the sort of man who enjoyed roast beef and a thick slice of ham.)

Murder MOST Awful

One hundred and eleven years ago – in the reign of George I – something was found floating in the River Thames.

5 March 1726   Last Wednesday morning at day-light, there was found in the dock before Mr. Paul’s brewhouse, near the Horse-Ferry at Westminster, the head of a man, with brown curl’d hair, the Scull broke in two blaces, and a large cut on each cheek; judg’d to be upwards of 30, and, by all circumstances, appearing to have been newly cut from off a living body; but by whom, or on what account, is yet a secret.
The British Gazetteer

The head was put on public display and three weeks later more body parts were found in a Marybone pond. The victim was identified as carpenter John Hayes, father of 14 and husband of 36 year old Catherine Hayes

The Sheriff and his men blamed the wife and two lodgers staying in the Hayes family home. Catherine was charged with petty treason which the law defines as… where one out of malice takes away the life of a subject to whom he oweth special obedience.

And she was also guilty of…

having criminal conversation with Thomas Wood, a butcher, and Thomas Billins, a taylor, both Worcestershire men, they put her upon complying with the execrable deed, that they might get into the possession of her husband’s substance, and keep her without molestation.

Catherine claimed that was she was beaten and starved by her husband and confessed that Thomas Billins was her natural son – adding incest to her list of crimes. I’ve even read that Billins and her husband were half brothers, although it is not clear if they knew it. Or that it was true.

The men were sentenced to be hanged, but Catherine’s fate was much worse. She was burnt alive without the indulgence of being first strangled, as has been customary in like cases. But, to strike a proper terror in the spectators of so horrid a crime.

They were not the only ones to die that day.

Just before the executions, benches for the spectators broke…

by which much damage was done; five or six persons were either killed on the spot, or are since dead; and several persons had their legs and Arms broken.

London Journal

Eating Winkles and Ridding Yourself of Fleas

Now on to pleasanter matters.

A Sussex saying maintains that eating winkles in March it is as good as a dose of medicine, which I thought useful advice worth passing on when I first heard it, but now I’m thinking it says more about winkles than it does about bodily health.
And medicine for what, I’d like to know.

If readers have experience of winkle eating in March they can write to me in confidence.

However, here is a local proverb that can be followed with an easy mind.

If from fleas you would be free,

On the first of March let all your windows closed be.

Although I admit it is a little late for this year.

Outstanding Response to New Almanac

New readers have FLOCKED to subscribe. Here are selected snippets from letters received in the last seven days.

I am eagerly looking forward to reading your musings each week.
writes April, a lady author from Texas (which I believe is currently at war with Mexico. I send my heartiest good wishes for her safety.)

“…delighted to follow your almanac as it unfolds and hope, in the fullness of time to meet your good self in the flesh…”
Nick, a park ranger from Brighhelmstone. (I have no idea what he does but it sounds as though he would be perfectly at home in Texas.)

“You may decide not to reply after I tell you I live in Australia.”
Dear TD, rest assured you are VERY welcome and I promise not to ask what you are doing there. Or why.

Lorraine, from I know not where, describes herself as a retired lecturer researching the correspondence to and from a particular lady of significant social standing. (I’m not sure I approve, although I am curious.)

Joanne, expresses admiration of my writing although she is only a humble maid of all work.
She tells me she will lose her position next month through no fault of her own and it occurs to me that someone reading this may feel they can provide employment to such a discerning young woman. I will pass on all offers…

“ wilder days as a Brighton Belle are long gone and I now devote myself to volunteering at a home for fallen women. I look forward to reading your almanac as your fame is widespread.”

This is part of an imaginative epistle from “Desiree”, whose handwriting bears a marked similarity to Ma Jenkins, a washer woman I was forced to let go after she dyed all the mistress’ stockings blue. Please note: woad should never be added to the rinse water.

Follow their example and sign up for Mrs Finnegan’s subscription service. You will be alerted as SOON as the ink is dry on her latest MISSIVE. Click HERE.

It costs nothing and we respectfully ask that you do not offer the coach driver any gratuities, no matter how challenging his journey.


8 comments on “Mrs Finnegan Begins Again — ANNOUNCING a Household Almanac for Brighton (and the World)

  1. seghopkin
    March 28, 2023

    We used to buy winkles from a stall in the Old Kent Road, but alas, the stall has vanished and so have the winkles. Please could Mrs Finnegan advise where they can be procured nowadays? From a Londoner.

    • bridget whelan
      March 28, 2023

      Mrs Finnegan has never knowingly ate a winkle but doesn’t object to others who do. Her knowledge of London is limited in the main to changing coaches but suggests you try The Angel Inn Tavern and Hotel for Gentlemen and Families on the Great North Road in Islington. It is said to be “where London begins” but only if you’re coming from the north

  2. Annette Rochelle Aben
    March 28, 2023


  3. Joanna
    March 28, 2023

    really enjoyed my first edition of the Almanac and looking forward to reading future editions. Was so amazed to see a humble maid of all work mentioned!
    best wishes, Joanna

    • bridget whelan
      March 28, 2023

      Mrs Finnegan is blind to distinctions of class, colour and creed but is very prejudiced in favour of clean finger nails and neat darning. (No offers of employment yet, Joanne, but don’t lose hope.)

  4. Jenny Pearson
    March 30, 2023

    As a child (a long time ago) a great enjoyment on Sunday afternoons was working across the Peacehaven rocks with my father to gather a treat for tea – winkle picking. His mantra was you could only pick them when there was an R in the month.

    • bridget whelan
      April 2, 2023

      If Mrs Finnegan had her way you would ONLY eat them when there’s a Q in the month

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on March 28, 2023 by in Almanac and tagged , , , , , .


%d bloggers like this: