for writers and readers….
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:
Occasional songs, poems and PITHY sayings and EVEN a few predictions when inspiration strikes.
*Scroll down to discover just how far my readership extends
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.
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.
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.
New readers have FLOCKED to subscribe. Here are selected snippets from letters received in the last seven days.
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.
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.
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
Thank you, Annette
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
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.)
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.
If Mrs Finnegan had her way you would ONLY eat them when there’s a Q in the month