Tried and tested

“I’d rather do without Shakespeare than Mrs Beeton”
- preface to Mrs Beeton’s All About Cookery, 1923

Mrs Beeton had her own maxims
‘there is no work like morning work’
the good housewife and her assistants
observe neatness and regularity
boots and knives to be cleaned before breakfast.

The days are marked out according to task
Mondays are for laundry work
sorting, soaking,
boiling, bleaching, blueing
rinsing, starching, wringing
drying, damping, mangling
ironing and airing.

Tuesdays to Saturdays are for cleaning
hands circling in a ritual of aroma and elbow grease
a torn pair of clean cotton underpants
is perfect for polishing:
dip first into furniture oil
rub smoothingly over the carved wooden legs
and burnish to a warm glow.

Sunday is a day of rest.
After Church, the service of luncheon,
relatives arrive for an ‘at home’ tea
beverages poured into gold rimmed cups
small iced cakes and other eatables
daintily arranged on plates with doilies
always the right cake forks.

poet's biography ->