Divine guidance for finding a husband

Victorian domestic goddess Marise Martin, watched by her husband, Graeme, will discuss the...
Victorian domestic goddess Marise Martin, watched by her husband, Graeme, will discuss the mysteries of a lady's personal toilette in Oamaru next week. Photo by Jane Dawber.
Self-titled Victorian domestic goddess Marise Martin talks to Sally Rae about the best way to snare a man.

After a 13-year courtship, self-titled Victorian domestic goddess Marise Martin finally tied the knot in August.

The goddess, who made her debut at Oamaru's Victorian heritage celebrations in 2006, has now progressed beyond matters pertaining to housekeeping.

On Thursday, she will enlighten her audience in the art of ensnaring a husband during The Victorian Domestic Goddess Takes A Husband event, held as part of this year's celebrations.

The Early Settlers Hall will be transformed into an "exquisite emporium" of information and instruction.

While not wanting to give too much away, Mrs Martin said those attending could expect to learn about the intricacies of Victorian courtship, sneak a peek into a lady's boudoir - "where you'll see some very private things" and discover what a man really wants - "a woman who has skills in every room in the house".

She will share simple and effective recipes to woo a man - "we all know the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" - with the audience receiving a copy of her first and probably last publication - Encyclopedia of Valuable Recipes: a Treasure House of Useful Knowledge for the Wants of Everyday Life.

Such delights include Rose Petal Pate, Gentleman's Relish (which involves fruit and a generous amount of alcohol), Curates Pudding, Funeral Biscuits - useful when catering for a crowd - and Fitless Cock, a dish moulded into the shape of a fowl.

Having snaffled a man, a woman then needed to know how to keep him at home, be a beautiful wife and keep a clean house.

She had a chapter on "essential domestic knowledge" with recipes for home-made disinfectants, furniture restorer and window spray, along with bath vinegars, foot-rubs and, for a man who was "slightly less than complete", rosemary and lavender hair restorer.

Mrs Martin's own matrimonial bliss was cemented on August 2 when she wed Graeme Martin, also known as Private Herbert First Class Non-Bubba in Alf's Imperial Army, in their hometown of Herbert.

"The goddess is a bit of an event junkie. Rather than a quiet, respectable little gathering to celebrate the nuptials, it was a full-on Victorian concert. Act One was the wedding ceremony," Mr Martin said.

After 13 years, Mrs Martin said she was able to determine Mr Martin's capacity for love, marriage and "general godly capabilities about the place".

A girl did not need to be too hasty. "We can be discerning. We can take our time," she said.

Her role as a Victorian Domestic Goddess was born during 2006 when she was chairwoman of the heritage celebrations organising committee.

Thursday night's event was about history and while history had a bad reputation for being dull and boring, there was no reason it could not be fun, she said.

Assisted by her cast of five assistants, whose characters were fictitious, it was carefully set in Oamaru in the late 1870s and the historical content was accurate.

Mrs Martin said it would be a refined event, with a glass of sherry or elderflower cordial - and she understood there could be a few "spares" [husbands] on the night "and I understand one or two women are hoping to trade".

Being a part-time Victorian goddess was a "wonderful, relaxing activity" for Mrs Martin, who completed her "inaugural 50" [birthday] earlier this year.

It was a complete contrast to her other role as a social worker for Child, Youth and Family.

"I love all this stuff. I love history and I do love domestic activities and I do love gardening," she said.

In March, the domestic goddess will be going on the road with a performance planned in Waimate. "My god, the goddess on tour," she said in mock horror.


• Recipes

Rose Syllabub
1 scant cup fine white sugar
1 cup white wine
1 cup rosewater
2 pints fresh cream
Place all chilled ingredients into a bowl and whip until frothy. Spoon into a glass bowl and decorate with rose sugar and cinnamon.

Fitless Cock
4oz oatmeal
2oz suet
1 finely chopped onion
1 egg
Salt, pepper
Mix all dry ingredients and bind well with beaten eggs. Scald a cloth, shape mixture like a fowl and tie in a cloth. Cook in boiling water for two hours.

Citrus and Mint Window Spray
Mix half a cup fresh lemon peel, half a cup fresh orange peel, 1 cup fresh mint leaves. Steep in one cup of white vinegar. Let stand for two weeks or until vinegar has leached out all colour and fragrance of the botanicals. Decant and strain into a spray bottle.


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