for writers and readers….

Mrs Finnegan Always Judges a Man by his Poker

I AM NOT QUICK to find fault, but you can tell a lot about a man’s intellect from his application of a poker to a fire.

A meddlesome nervous type will dive right in, poking about without rhyme nor reason. In a cold winter’s day the poker should be kept out of his reach.

No one should EVER touch a poker to a fire near its death, for it will EXPIRE as sure as cats have fleas.
Do not stir it.
Try not to look or breathe upon it.
Instead gently, gently with the step of a ghost apply the bellows. If there is a spark left the air will find it and within minutes you will be rewarded by the generous heat.

Dear reader, if you can find a man who can do all that, marry him.

Or perhaps you have a better way of judging character.
What everyday habit or activity excites your INSTANT animosity?
Or could it be that the way a lady slices an onion reveals a good heart?

Do share in the comments below. We need to know these things

Saint of the Week

St Lynwine of Holland, patron saint of ice skaters. Feast day April 14th.

In 1396 when knights wore armour and lived in castles, young Lynwine went skating with friends. One collided into her, she broke a rib, went to bed and never got up again. She suffered a series of mysterious illnesses over the next 40 years and I think I may have had most of them myself.

Who knew that medieval folk had skates? Or that you could be Saintly lying in bed. I wonder if her name had anything to do with her preferred drink. If so, there’s someone in Brunswick Square who should be called LynGin.

Feathery Omens of Death – be prepared

A white bird or a crow flying against a window at night foretells of a death in the house within a year.

Seeing six crows on a branch is a sign that death is coming. (There’s nothing wrong in making a lot of noise when you see four or five together)

If a sparrow attacks a swallow and throws it from its nest (on or near a home), a son will be born and a daughter will die.

Nearly all of these can be got round in some way. For example, it doesn’t count if the swallow started the fight, but the SUREST sign of all is when a bird flies into the bedroom of a sick person, lands on the bed post, turns its back on the patient and coughs loudly.

A Very Short History of Brighton’s Massive Growth

Some have written to EXPRESS their surprise that a small town like Brighton could be home to work of such literary merit as this humble almanac. Ah, ladies and gentlemen, do not be fooled, once a tiny fishing village, it is now EXPANDING quicker than a sea dipper’s waist*.

In 1801 the town’s population was just over 7000 but by 1831 it leapt to 40,631 (the very year I arrived. I think I must be the 1 at the end. It’s so nice to be counted)

The entire sea frontage of the parish of Brighton is near THREE miles in length and the line of highly respectable houses is pushing west into Hove village as I write.

A Prediction

Almanacs and predictions go together like straw and mattresses and it is HIGH time I offered one of my own. I therefore say with unshakable conviction that the village of Hove will melt under the weight of building bricks and will disappear from maps and memories. ‘Tis sad, but never mind, it’s the price of progress and it will be replaced by a VERY elegant West Brighton.

You can just see the corner of Brunswick Square on the left and I do believe that is me walking down the centre of the road. Yes, I do look a tad taller than normal but I seem to remember having extra high wooden pattens in 1833 as there was so much mud about.

*In case you are not certain what a sea dipper looks like, here is a water colour of the FAMOUS Martha Gunn and friends.

Will you show your faith in me by signing up to the Almanac subscription service?
There is no charge involved (all gratuities are EXPRESSLY forbidden) and delivery is executed by gentlemen with excessive good manners (some wearing top hats) or by some other means.

Click HERE and you won’t run the risk of missing another instalment.

And don’t forget to share your FAVOURITE method of judging a stranger’s character in the comments below. We need to know…

11 comments on “Mrs Finnegan Always Judges a Man by his Poker

  1. beth
    April 11, 2023

    I tend to judge a man by the way he uses a mop

    • bridget whelan
      April 11, 2023

      Oh yes!

    • Mrs Helena Potts If You Please
      April 12, 2023

      Why is it so many men seem to have not observed as children what the servants or their dear mamas were doing and insist on having great cascades of water from the mop head depositing gallons of water across the floor whilst they paddle around like angry ducks stirring up the bottom complaining that they will be the age of Methuselah before it dries. Really for the more intelligent sex they really are remarkably lacking in common sense. Mrs Potts however reserves her worst approbation for those foolish souls who will insist on keeping the same water and not fetching fresh when the water is nearon BLACK with the dirt being wiped off. One would not use a cloth with boot black on it to clean one’s face with the expectation is would come up snowy white would one. One wonders what they are being taught in the schoolroom and by their families these days. Oh and the instance around how the pots and crockery must be stacked on the dish drainer when everyone knows the cook knows the best way. How I have had to mollify the current cook after HE HIMSELF has been in the kitchen and given forth his views I shall draw a veil over (though not my best hat since Tuesday last) – it is a wonder that we have managed to keep this one so long. I have a spare hatpin now that is lying idly by and I am sore tempted to repurpose it in the nearest large pin cushion of my acquaintance but the parson was reminding us of the dangers of anger and that we must turn the other cheek on Sunday so I must refrain from following Yael’s example. He should be thankful it is hatpin not a tent peg.

      • beth
        April 15, 2023


  2. Sarah Waldock
    April 11, 2023

    I would not say that mine was expert with a poker, though he is neither timid nor aggressive; but he’s a dab hand with the bellows. He also knows when he is beat and calls in his favourite pyromaniac [that’s me] to sort out a problem with fire or stove. As he can also cook omelettes to die for, he’s definitely a keeper.

  3. bridget whelan
    April 11, 2023

    He gets the Finnegan Seal of Approval

    • Sarah Waldock
      April 11, 2023

      He got mine, too… we had our 40th anniversary in January.

  4. Neil Fraser Smith
    April 12, 2023

    Finnegan to my mind it is the way a gentleman of my acquaintance used to remove his socks. More of that later—‘

  5. Tiffany
    April 12, 2023

    Dear Mrs. Finnegan,
    The poker is a good method to decide on character. I also believe that if the gentleman cares enough to wear suspenders (a belt these days over here) and shine his shoes before stepping out, that is a good sign of character. Also, as a member of a family who plays golf, the characrer of people REALLY shows during a match. We personally wouldn’t enter into business with anyone who doesn’t count their score correctly…
    I hope spring has found you, warm winds and flowers surround you.
    Best wishes, Tiffany from SK

    • bridget whelan
      April 13, 2023

      Polished shoes is certainly a good sign but may represent a servant’s labour rather than the gentleman’s care. There are many who would go out in public in a general state of disarray if they didn’t have a mother, wife or servant to oversee their appearance.

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This entry was posted on April 11, 2023 by in Almanac and tagged , , , , , .


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