the complexity of calves


image by Gene Bilbrew

in the early years of the 20th century good servants were a status symbol.


“men servants are sometimes paid fancy prices if they are endowed with six feet of height, beautiful calves and good complexions. Tall parlour maids fetch more than short ones and a 1909 advertisment in the London Daily Telegraph required a man servant to look after a pony, make himself useful in the house, and sing in the parish choir.”

ponyold ponyboy

A typical advertisment for a female companion in 1899 read thus:

“No salary. Young married lady living in Surrey offers comfortable room to homely gentlewoman under 20 years of age. Cyclist with own machine preferred. Must be willing to undertake active part in all household duties. No other servants kept but boy comes in mornings.”


Published in: on January 11, 2009 at 7:38 am  Comments (22)  

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22 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I like a man with good calves … ya know, one of those that will come in the morning?

  2. Who could possibly resist replying to that ad…?

  3. not me 🙂

  4. “Boy comes in the morning”?

    In a sock, discreetly hidden from his mother the night before.

  5. bugger the sock – the boy comes in me!

  6. you know I was so born too late …. ooooo how lovely to advertise for a young male to live in who would ‘do’ for you and it was not seen as being out of the ordinary… sigh 😉

  7. I can most certainly come in the morning, but I’m sorry, I draw the line at singing in the parish choir. A fella has to have some self respect.

  8. I agree, the boy must come in me. As for the homely gentlewoman who must not only provide her own cycle, but is not give a salary, I thought slavery had been outlawed by the early years of last century. Unless you were a homely gentlewoman, I guess. And if you were a pretty gentlewoman without a cycle?

  9. I just want to mention that I have killer calves. Starting in high school marching band I was made to stand on my toes wearing a sixty pound horn for thirty minutes at a time. I then spent ten years in jobs where I stood up for ten hours a day. I then took up martial arts and spend half of each day bouncing around a training ring like a jack russell. Finally, I took up hiking and I spend at least a day a week walking distances in excess of twenty miles.

    Seriously, I can’t buy tall boots; my lower legs won’t fit. You can break 2×4’s on my legs.

    Now, if I could just do something about my tummy.

  10. homely? afraid you are not qualified, nursemyra!

  11. I often whine that I need a wife (an old fashioned kind who would have the house cleaned and supper ready when I came home from a hard day of work.) Now why didn’t I think of getting myself a man/boy servant. He can come in the evening, in the morning…

  12. … a sixty pound horn? Wow, now I feel inadequate!

  13. I wouldn’t know where to put a 60 pound horn

  14. Hmm, I wonder if I could advertise for a house mate like this? Must be prepared to ‘service’ owner?

  15. I like calves…a nice bit of veal…mmmmmm

  16. I think it was Shakespeare’s Beatrice who said she liked a man with a good leg, but I am not that much with Shakespearian translation sometimes. She may have been talking about something less entirely.

  17. My manservant, McChe, is never seen in the morning, cannot sing and frightens the ponies. He gets no salary, but pays himself out of my cigarette supply.

  18. So how does the maid with no arms get dressed?

    And if the boy comes in mornings, that doesn’t leave much for the evenings now does it?

  19. perhaps you could fill my evening renalfailure?

  20. Oh, I’ll fill more than your evening…

  21. I dont think any amount of dusting is going to get ‘that’ clean.

  22. And I am your servant my dear nurse. LOL!

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