My husband and I have been married for three years. Pretty happily married, too. We live in a (very tiny) pink cottage in rural Essex, with a tortoise named Bob (who resides in a converted kitchen cupboard) and we rub along in a fairly contented fashion.
Of course, there’s no rule book for being a good wife – at least these days. But there was, as I discovered recently, in 1913. And Blanche Ebbutt, a lady described as ‘an old hand’ in such matters, wrote it.
So what lessons, I wondered, could Mrs Ebbutt’s book, Don’ts For Wives, have for a modern lady, 100 years on? Has it become an anachronism, or is it packed full of timeless, invaluable tips for achieving wedded bliss? Armed with a copy, I decided to put her advice to the test…
Just how does one become a good wife?
It’s not just your garden that should bloom this season…
Becoming a mother was far from easy for actress- turned-chef Lisa Faulkner. She started trying for a baby after she married the actor Chris Coghill in 2005, but the next two years would leave her emotionally and physically drained as she suffered an ectopic pregnancy and several failed IVF attempts.
‘I actually said I’d give IVF three goes, and I ended up doing four. I couldn’t afford any more; I spent all of my savings. But also mentally, I couldn’t go through it again,’ she says. ‘It’s a really tough process.
‘I don’t think people have any idea until they go through it themselves. It’s not just the physical stuff that happens; it’s the emotions and the hormones that are pumping through your body. You’re on this whole trip of desperation for a baby and you’ll do anything. ‘But I was determined to be a mother.’
So, after deciding that they couldn’t put themselves through any more cycles of IVF, Lisa and Chris (who are now separated) adopted a 15-month old girl, Billie, in 2008. Continue reading
She plays blonde bombshell Trixie in Call The Midwife. So what has the hit programme taught Helen George about babies and motherhood?
It is, I soon realised on speaking to her, almost impossible not to warm to Miss George. Just like her on-screen character Trixie, she is bubbly, beautiful and comfortingly down to earth.
Helen George and one of her charges on the set of Call The Midwife
‘Sometimes I feel as though Trixie is just a more extreme version of me,’ she says. ‘I suppose we have similar traits – I love clothes and spending time with my girlfriends. I love a good gossip and I enjoy working. I admire her tenacity, and her unfaltering con dence.’
But just how do you prepare for playing the role of a midwife? ‘We have a wonderful midwife on set at all times (Terri Coates) who really keeps an eye on all of the medical and historical details,’ explains Helen. ‘And I’m very proud to say that I can now make a bed properly, with folded corners, like my grandma used to.’
Helen married fellow actor Oliver Boot in 2011 – after she filmed the first series of Call The Midwife. They met in 2008 while playing a bickering couple in Hotel Babylon. But has playing a midwife and spending so much time with babies made her broody? ‘It’s made me more prepared for giving birth and caring for children,’ she says. ‘I didn’t even know how to hold a baby before I started this job.’ Continue reading