Make Good Law the First Time Around  

There are some things that improve with practice and revision; dance routines, manuscripts, driving, piano playing among others but not law. Law when enacted should be the very best it can be. ‘A suck it and see’ approach is not advisable. A ‘let’s start here and see where we end up’ is not advisable.

A ‘this is getting better’ is not a good start or rather it is a good start but not good enough to be put into law. We need law to be as precise and as finished as possible. We know this for it takes a long time to bring in new law. We know this for law has a direct impact on the population. Law is very powerful. It regulates how we live, punishes wrong doers and can dramatically impact the lives of citizens. It needs to be good law the first time around. The very best law we can create because the possible negative impact of bad law has huge ramifications from unfair or unjust rule right the way through to unwieldy and costly law suits for wrongful justice.

Last year as I waited for the new insolvency laws to come into practice I was right at the top of the queue to avail of its rulings. My case was simple. My husband and I had borrowed money on our family home, worth €1.5million. I had then been thrown into divorce and recession. My ex returned to the UK and became bankrupt leaving the entire debt (€800,000) to me and our two children. I tried to sell my home and secured a cash offer of €500,000 (reflective of the new falling price of the home) but the banks refused consent to sell. They preferred to repossess the home and sell it for less than €170,000. I was left with an unsecured loan of €1million (including arrears), no possessions and no income. I queued up to avail of the new Insolvency Service but to my horror I was too broke to even enter the hallowed doors. What kind of crazy thinking was behind the institution of an insolvency service that could not cater for the truly insolvent? Was it simply set up as a gentlemen’s club for the mildly financially incapacitated who could afford to employ expensive financial advisers? It would appear so as we hear weekly court cases where rich individuals argue to maintain their standard of living, their houses, their cars, their private schools and their holiday homes. Last year a certain high profile insolvency expert was castigated in the media for arguing that certain ‘types’ should be allowed stay in their large family homes as it was reflective of their position in society and their profession. Public retractions followed this little storm in a teacup but the truth was out there.

Further investigation of the Insolvency Service showed other obvious flaws. The banks had veto over any potential deals; which fact is reflected in the tiny number of deals done to date. Applicants have to avail of a personal insolvency practioneer, a PIP, and these are all private and can charge whatever they want. The going rate is around €3000 but there is no guarantee a deal will be done – as per the above veto. In fact, I sat next to a man going bankrupt who had paid that sum only to have his deal thrown out; he was then forced into bankruptcy after all. Then all applicants, whether they go through with the process or not, are named and shamed in a public list. When has there ever been a need to publicly know an individual’s credit rating? And finally, an individual has to have money to enter these proceedings. ‘Another fine mess’ as Laurel might say to Hardy.

‘Another fine mess’ as Laurel might say to Hardy.

Only it gets worse. The ISI has now written to the 140 PIPs in Ireland outlining another flaw; this time the existence of another mistake, this time giving greater than intended powers of veto to minor creditors. This mistake is significant and opens the door to potential lawsuits for those who may have been disadvantaged by this error. The PIPs have been advised to delay all proceedings; court or negotiations, until the Dail resumes and this mistake can be fixed.

When I was not able to use the Insolvency Service and was forced into bankruptcy, I discovered many flaws there too. True the punitive twelve year sentence was reduced to three, but I was told forcefully that if I obtained any work up to and including the last day of my sentence, they would slap a further five year judgement against my earnings, in effect creating an eight year punishment and a total disincentive to getting back on my feet again.

I met a friend as I entered my bankruptcy and he tried to comfort me. ‘It’s getting better,’ he said. That’s when I knew getting better was not good enough. It’s time to make good law the first time out.

 

 

Exclusive – first online only poster for a European Candidate

Welcome to my world.  A world without posters littering the highways and the byways. A world where the candidates actually look like their photograph (and are taken recently). And a world where the candidate asks politely if you will please vote for them.

Please vote for me!

Public Service

March 20, 2014

I am running for public service. I believe that the past six years have led me to this place. There is a reason for my experience and now I want to turn it into an asset to help others. I am finalising what I can bring to the table and in the interim, here is where it all started – it started with debt.

I wonder – about Debt This is a 30 minute video about debt and this is why I am running for public service

Here also is my appearance on the RTE news talking about bankruptcy last night- my first official interview as a person looking to stand for public office – but guess what? I’m still saying the same things! RTE About the second minute

Thank you

Jillian

March 20, 2014

 

 

Bankrupt

There is no one more surprised than myself to be in front of the judge in the High Court on February 17, 2014 and to hear the words that I was declared bankrupt. The surprise lay in the fact of the judgement – how had I, Jillian Godsil, arrived at this point?  I had always worked hard, I had been financially independent since a student, and I had not ‘partied’ during the Celtic Tiger. Far from it, I had been a hard-working, self-employed mother of two small children.

I grew up in Dublin, one of six children, and attended Rathfarnham Parish School, The High School Danum before going on to read History and English at Trinity College Dublin.  I loved Trinity and flourished behind those grey walls. As I approached my final examinations, I struggled to consider what career I might take. A number of international financial organisations held graduate evenings in the college and I tagged along with business students who were friends. I was most impressed by the JP Morgan presentation and the following week put in a standard CV to the bank. To my surprise I was called to interviews both in Dublin and London and was subsequently offered a job before I had sat my finals.  I achieved a respectable 2-1 in June and moved to London in September 1987 and began my first career in banking. I was hired on the graduate programme and settled into city life. I spent in total three years in London, buying an apartment in Islington along the way. I also met my future husband and became engaged towards the end of that furlong. He was transferred to Sydney and I happily followed shortly afterwards, embarking on a new career, that of public relations.

We spent three years in Sydney. I quickly rose to senior consultant with a small pr company before transferring to a large US multinational, Hill & Knowlton. During that time, we also flew to Fiji in 1991 and were married on Valentine’s day.  In 1992, My husband was then transferred to Singapore and I joined the Singapore office of Hill & Knowlton with a rather cumbersome title of Asia Pacific Director of Advanced Technology. During our eighteen months in Singapore I also conceived and gave birth to our first child; it was a busy time.

My husband’s job was reaching an end in Singapore and being a new mother I was homesick. Accordingly we chose Dublin over London as our next city of choice. I returned home in advance of my husband, buying our home on Leinster Road before he was discharged from Singapore. He found employment in the IFSC in Dublin and I worked briefly for a local pr firm before joining Iona Technologies as its PRO. We were well established in Dublin; we both had good jobs, our Georgian house was renovated, and I became pregnant with our second child. It was around this period that my husband felt he was unwell and perhaps suffering from a breakdown. He was very unhappy in work and wished to try a new career. He was an excellent cook and so we decided to buy a guesthouse near to Dublin.

We sold our home in Leinster Road and bought a ruin in Co Wicklow called Raheengraney House in 1997. We moved in with my parents for three months while we did it up. A year later we moved out but the house was still largely a building site. It was to take the guts of another year before we finished the renovation, at which point my husband then switched to renovating an outbuilding into guest accommodation and planting the gardens. At the time we bought the house, I opened a pr consultancy, quickly winning new accounts in the growing economy. When the house was ready for guests, my husband was not. My business had grown substantially during this initial period and I took over the role of sole breadwinner. We did not run a guesthouse afterwards but lived in gracious rooms.

In 2007 my life on the outside was perfect; I was married with two beautiful children, living in a comfortable house, owning a successful business and contributing to the local community. I was involved in the local church; I was honorary secretary of the select vestry, church warden, choir member and Sunday school teacher. I was active in my children’s hobbies: I was a committee member and PRO for the Shillelagh Pony Club. I was active in my own interests: I was a committee member and PRO of the Tinahely Riding club, I was a choir member of the Tullow Singers, I was a volunteer with the Irish charity To Russian with Love and sponsored a Russian orphan, and I was the pro bono PRO for the equine charity, The Irish Horse Welfare Trust. In my spare time I walked the local roads, read books and dreamt one day of writing the Irish novel.

At this time the house was valued at €1.65million.  Since my husband was not working, he wanted to create a pension for our retirement and bought property in Portugal, using equity from the family home. As a result we grew the mortgage to €800,000. My business was thriving in the Celtic Tiger and was easily able to repay the interest. Again I was the supportive wife and agreed to this plan. I had worked on different continents and succeeded. I had lived through the dotcom boom and crash and succeeded. I had never failed financially before, far from it. I was a hard and diligent worker and had proven myself capable of supporting the family by my own efforts over the past ten years without any income support from my husband

This perfect life was however crumbling from the inside.

I hit first the dissolution of my marriage and then the crashing impact of the recession. I could have withstood one, but not both. Add into that mix a very difficult and extremely expensive family law confrontation and the seeds of my bankruptcy took hold and flourished.

As part of the divorce, the house was put on the market in 2008 and fetched an offer of €1.1million. However, this was retracted due to personal circumstances of behalf of the buyer and now we faced into the property crash. The overseas investment went to pay the shockingly high family law legal fees. These were compounded by my husband first bringing a commercial case in the High Court which was subsequently joined to a family law suit. It was largely farcical and resulted in huge legal fees (almost €100,000 in my case), many delays and subsequent asset loses through the passage of time and descent into recession. We concluded our legal separation in the High Court on February 2, 2010, with the children remaining with me and our debts shared equally.

Following our legal separation, my ex-husband returned to the UK and became bankrupt, thereby leaving the entire mortgage debt to myself and the two children. I struggled hard to find a way to climb out of my increasing financial difficulties. My business was affected and fee income dropped dramatically. In August 2010 my ex-husband filed for divorce in Chelmsford in the UK. It was concluded a number of months later on the basis of being apart for more than two years.

When my ex-husband moved to the UK, the children and I moved out of the big house; it was too expensive to heat. We moved to a two bedroom cottage in nearby Coolboy. I rented Raheengraney house to a number of tenants, passing the rent directly to the bank. However, the rent was not sufficient and the arrears grew to a devastating and unmanageable €200,000. I then lost my tenant and the house was in no fit state to rent out again. In desperation in 2011, I made a video to sell the house.  It went viral and a cash offer of €500,000 was received within weeks. In a crushing and inexplicable blow, the bank refused consent to sell. This was the landmark point in determining if I could have avoided bankruptcy or not. From April 2011 until the house was finally repossessed in March 2013, I fought tooth and nail to find a solution. If I could not sell it, perhaps I could turn it into a business, find a white knight, or attract a backer. I expended huge energies in trying to extricate myself from this growing debt but nothing worked. In fact, the opposite happened, my own business began to suffer, slowly at first and then more noticeably as the recession took hold. In fairness to my departing client base, they also commented that my work rate was not the same as previously. The stress was taking its toll on me, intellectually and commercially.

The limited company floundered. Bailiffs were called and finding nothing of value, went away again. I attempted to trade my way out of insolvency but despite moving mountains, in August 2012, I closed the doors on my business and retired home to lick my wounds. For the next six months I suffered from severe depression. 2013 did not begin with any more hope. Legal proceedings issued by Bank of Scotland before Christmas landed me in court in February. Despite the county registrar’s initial backing of my case -  I had secured another offer, this time of €220,000 – a second visit to court sealed the repossession order. The sheriff took the house formally in August 2013 and proceeded to sell it for less than €160,000 in February of this year. At this point I had an unsecured debt of 1 million plus, no business and no hope.

When the new laws were introduced last September by the government to tackle the country’s growing indebtedness, of which I was now a statistic, I attempted to enter the insolvency process. Ironically I was too broke. I did not have sufficient income to engage, despite being handled pro bono by the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation, the law not being fit to cater for truly insolvent individuals.

There was no other option but bankruptcy. I filed on January 7, 2014 and was adjudicated a bankrupt on February 17.  I met with my case officers on March 10 to enter all the particulars of my assets, or rather the lack of same. It was with chilling awareness I was told that while the duration of the bankruptcy was three years, should I obtain work prior to the termination of that period, even as late as the last day, that the Insolvency Service might and very much would slap a judgement order on my salary for a further five years. In short while all debts incurred over the next three years were mine and mine alone, any assets could be seized as theirs. For all their politeness, the steely menace of the system was not for turning. I am to return to court on March 31 to confirm my compliance with the court officers and system.

I never imagined that I might be in this terrible place – all my life’s savings gone, my home gone and in receipt of social welfare.  Moreover, I am not alone. This fact does not provide any comfort, however, as I see people facing into similar distressing situations. Bankruptcy is a solution, but it is not a panacea for the truly insolvent. Children still have to be fed, rent still has to be paid, and bills still have to be met. It is ground zero which is better than sub terrain, but only marginally.

 

Debt, Survival and Hope – please view and share

My friends at SETV asked me if I would talk to camera about my journey so far in debt. I know I am only in the middle. I have not finished my journey. I am still in hock to the banks for more than €1million, my home is repossessed, my business gone, my possessions sold save for a ten year old American Fridge Freeze from my old house, and while that is very good at keeping food cold, it is less reliable as a place to live lol :-)

I have learnt one thing on this journey, which is far from over, that while worries may assail us on all sides, it is also vital to live even as we struggle. We will not get back the years that debt may steal from us, so the only alternative is to live like crazy, seize the day and love, and breathe, and hope, and be. Always be.

This is for anyone dealing with debt. God bless! xx

View VIDEO here

and please let me know what you think :-)

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My week on @Ireland – my parting message

What an amazing week. I will write about my lovely time as the curator of the @Ireland account tomorrow but I am running out the door now and so I just want to ask people who follow the account to look at this presentation I did on debt, survival and hope.

http://bcove.me/i68kpnpg  or click on the icon on www.SouthEastTelevision.ie

This is a talk I did with SouthEast Television called I wonder – about debt,survival and hope

I really put my heart and soul into this. I think it is important. I am passionate about not being ashamed at failing financially. Neither should you be – if you have the misfortune to be down on your luck.

God bless!

 

Remember – This too will pass…

 

A Twitter Tale…@Ireland for a week – let’s write

We all know the Irish can talk for Ireland. We all know that every single Irish person has at least one book in them. Well, let’s get collectively writing on Twitter. Here are the first two lines – send me your line and the number where you think it might run. Replica lines may be juggled somewhat. this is fun! Send your lines to @ireland

 

1. The man at the corner shop did not look up when the gun went off @jilliangodsil

2. it was as if he was expecting it @paudimac

3. He was used to gunfire. The army taught him that. @islandgooner

4. He had powers to illude gunfire. @cybercalci

5. He’d learnt the noise of bullets tearing flesh too, the gasp of shock. She collapsed, eyes blank. He folded his paper, walked away. @GuyleJeune

6. As he walked, something glinted in the corner of his eye @islandgooner

7. and still he walked on neatly tucking the receipt into his wallet. @beanmimo

8. Not in his wildest dreams did he ever expect a hardback copy of Larouss’se reference for wine lovers, to be of any use to him @fleurman

Cat on a Holly Tree Top

IMG_0491[1]

 

The first we had any indication that there might be trouble was on the Thursday night. Tigger, our cat of some three years, once rescued off the main Carnew to Aughrim road, when not much bigger than computer mouse, but with an enormous capacity to survive a main road, and lungs like a fisherwoman, and a cry as piteous as the orphan that she then was, presented with her back leg paw as swollen as a hockey ball (the football analogy would have been excessive in this feline example).

 

It required attention although Tigger did not seem in pain. We kept her in the house just in case and much to her disgust, intending to bring her to the evening surgery at our local veterinary clinic.  She puked for good measure just before we left displaying her annoyance at such treatment. Our cat travelling box, while purchased as such, leaves a lot to be desired. It is a wire cage with no bottom, necessitating a towel or similar to cover the base. We tried the canary trick of draping the cage with a cover but she mewled horribly all the way to the neighbouring village, sticking out the three paws that could fit out through the holes and scratching my youngest whose job it was to keep her calm.

 

In the surgery, the vet examined her and suggested an infection and prescribed injections. These were administered without much panic; although we were glad there were only two. At this stage Tigger had figured out what was causing the sharp needle pain and I doubted we could have kept the vet safe for a third injection. He also provided an antibiotic solution to be given orally in the form of drops.

 

Home again, home again jiggedy jig, with the cat mewling even more and my daughter now using the towel under the cage as opposed to over it in a vain attempt to avoid injury.  Once home we administered a further oral dose of medicine as instructed which she promptly sicked up on the grass.

 

Our cat was less frequent in the house after that experience over the weekend. She normally comes and goes as she wishes, but the nasty injection and further nasty oral drops, meant she went more than she came. But by Sunday we were worried. She had not returned for food or medicine. A hunt ensued and we found her asleep beside the bales of hay on the ground in the stables, being too weak to jump on board as would have been normal.

 

At this point we decided house arrest was preferable to that we could keep her indoors. We set up a litter tray and closed all windows. The smell of sick cat is not good. Then, while she managed to poop on the litter, the smell was awful. Then she continued to vomit, with neither food, medicine or even water staying down. And she sicked all over. On Monday morning, she was a thin reflection of her formal self, she could barely walk, and instead of curling up, lay stiff as a poker, Egyptian-style, with her head trembling before it would sink to the ground in an exhausted and consumptive fashion.  I went for a walk and when I returned I could not find her, she had crept into a small space in a cupboard and looked for all the world as if she was going to die. I brought some fresh water to her which she lapped. Then she vomited again, this time a red mucusy mess. I called the vet. I was bringing our dying cat in immediately, outside hours and in a hurry. They said she would be put on a drip at once.

 

This journey was longer. We had to go to a different clinic which was open and once in the cage, reminiscent if Tigger had but watched Winston’s rat-filled cage in the film 1984, she set up an equally protesting wail for the entire 30minute journey. She went from death calm to banshee loud in seconds and maintained it for the entire journey. My youngest, again in the danger seat, wondered if people might think we were murdering a cat, not saving one.

 

Once in the vets she displayed an agility and restlessness that made liars of my near-death worry, but she was sick enough to warrant the drip and more injections. The vet suggested a sedative prior to any needles. My youngest and I exchanged looks. This was a good idea we said.

 

That night we were recalled to the surgery. Tigger seemed fine if still a little weak. We were to take her home and report back if she did not improve. While my eldest had driven to the surgery, she suggested I drive home as she wanted to hold Tigger on her lap in the cage and with only a dressing gown as a base. Tigger, now as familiar as she wanted to be with Orwell’s classic torture chamber, began her banshee wail just minutes from the car park. My eldest implored me to put the pedal to the medal, in a 97 Micra with no power steering. We were making ground, at the earth shattering speed of forty miles an hour, when her wail sounded different and next minute Tigger was urinating in the cage, easily avoiding the dressing gown and hitting instead my eldest’s jodhpurs and the car seat. Crazily driving the Micra at excessive speed on the country roads I could only fish out a used tissue from the side door. I was begged to go faster but even the gods could not help me there.

 

At home, Tigger was rushed inside and I was rushed back out to try and clean the car seat. We tried her with a little food and she ate. We tried her with a little water and she drank. She tried the litter with success, creating the headache inducing smell where windows and doors were closed against our would-be escapee. That night, we left her in the sitting area, but she woke us at 2am, then 3am and then again at 4am, scratching to come into the bedrooms. She habitually slept on my youngest’s bed but given her recent vomiting that had been banned. Finally, she, and we, slept.

 

The next day a recovery was mooted and the doors and windows opened, with the litter thankfully expelled outside. The bandage from the drip was removed, uncovering a bald-like leg. Tigger came and went, ate and went, and seemed pretty much herself again.  I guess that night she needed to prove a point. At quarter to six in the morning a wild mee-ow screech was heard by all three of us. I put my head under the pillows and tried to ignore it, but my two children decided otherwise. The two musketeers thumped past my door to the garden to find the source of the cry and the cause of the matter. With my head under the pillows I convinced myself that they had returned to bed, when minutes later I heard my youngest running back in again. The third, and rather reluctant, musketeer was needed. Groggily I reached for a jumper and my flipflops and went outside. I could hear noises in the middle of the ditch and climbing over the fence and under the trees and around the bushes – no mean feat in my ill-advised flipflops – I found the cat up a tree, that was in the middle of a vigorous holly bush, with my eldest half way up the tree, being supported by my youngest, trying to reach the cat. I was called upon to provide the support to allow my eldest to go higher. This time I crawled over the barbed wire and under the shrubs and finding shaky footing in my flip flops, attempted to take the weight of my eldest under her left boot. She, being of a more serious musketeer than myself, had worn more suitable footwear. At this point, I must point out, it is remarkably difficult to sustain the weight of a young woman, albeit a slim young woman, in one’s hands, while leaning at angle into the tree because the presence of a vigorous holly bush prohibited closer approach and while wearing flip flops on the banked uneven ditch.

 

Still, she did not fall, more due to the strength of her upper body than my real foundation in my hands. Tigger obligingly moved higher and out of reach and onto another tree. We regrouped and this time my youngest, being the tallest of all three, struggled to reach the cat. Tigger, perhaps sensing that resistance was futile, took some ginger steps down towards us. My youngest reached up and Tigger caterwauled like a feral cat and my youngest almost dropped her, to much scolding by my eldest. But luck was with us and the cat was still held and recovered despite her continued wailing. We reached steady ground but then my youngest said in fright. “It is not our cat,” and dropped her, like I have to say, a scalded cat. “She doesn’t have a bald leg.” The cat, who was indeed Tigger but whose bald leg had fluffed out overnight, was unconcerned. She sat in the middle of the drive and cleaned herself.

 

Being a bright morning we all trooped off to bed. The children attempted to sleep. The cat ate some more food and slept. The dog slept on the blanket. I booted up my laptop and tried to record this weekend. The next time the children say they want another cat:  I will produce this and read it. Lest I forget.

The end.

 

Post Script: Tigger is well.

Post Script 2:  I recounted this story to my mother, sharing the humour with her. Towards the end the telling my mother asked me in a very confused voice. ‘But how did Tucker get up a tree?’  Tucker? I had to laugh. In addition to Tigger the cat, we have Tucker the new foal and somehow my mother had thought I was talking about him and was getting more and more confused especially when I told her he had been found up a tree. How we laughed. The day Tucker climbs a tree is the day I ban all animals from our home.

Back to School – End of the Summer Madness

For once, and this is very unlike me, for once I am cheering for the end of the summer holidays and the welcome return to normal life now that we are all going back to school tomorrow, indeed some pupils have already returned. Typically I cherish a child-like horror of school being mentioned while still technically in August and the recent years’ slippery slide of returning to school before September has greatly saddened me for all sorts of nostalgic reasons and very few practical ones. It is like Christmas being flagged before Halloween is over; to my mind it is just not right.

 

But as the dying days of summer drew to a close I can only say that I have witnessed a wave of misogyny spreading across the globe, creating a scourge as nasty as any plague, and infecting people in despicable ways. In some ways, this misogyny was accidental and haphazard but it was no less disturbing for its seemingly unpredictable eruptions.

 

First off was #slangirl. While her actions were less than clever, it was the singling out of the young girl for such vitriol that was frightening. There was no #slaneboy or even #slanecouple. I was horrified to see adults rage in and throw stones at the young woman, slut shaming her without trial, compassion or humanity. Let those without sin throw the first stone or at least examine the log in their own eye. Many of those hurling unnecessary and cruel abuse at young woman probably, due to age and lack of technology, committed their own foolish mistakes far from the unflinching eye of the ubiquitous camera phone.

cheryl's bum

Second was Cheryl Cole’s sofa, or rather her bum with the rose-garden pattern on it. It reminded me of nothing more than my late Aunt Dorothy’s colourful but faded rose-festooned sofas and Cheryl’s panties were like my aunt’s famous lacy antimacassars poised on the arms and backs to prevent staining by use. You never promised me a rose garden, Cheryl, and while the lady is entitled to decorate her body in any way she sees fit, I was surprised by the criticism that went beyond constructive.

To my mind many tattoo ‘sleeves’ with naked ladies and entwined loving hearts are far less visually attractive than overblown roses, and while all tattoo art may bow down eventually before gravity, it is her choice, her body. I might not wish for my lady garden to have a rose garden behind, but then that too is my choice.

 

Finally was our little Miss wholesome Miley Cyrus. Words fail me. She twerked but only as white woman would. She stripped off her clothes for a nude ensemble that covered less than Cheryl’s ass tattoo, and then ground her own as yet adorned bum into that of Robin Thicke’s 16 year older body. I can only think she was badly advised.

 

But, my comment on these incidents while initially driven by a horrified dislike of slut shaming and misogyny, my secondary thoughts are on the people who posted the stories. That to me is even more interesting.

 

In #slanegirl we have yet to establish who loaded up the picture. I was at the concert and we also nearly witnessed similarly undesirable behaviour, in this case a young man attempting to urinate on the grass beside us. Again let me clear, I have nothing against urination or blow jobs, but not in my (sic) face please. So a member of our party told the young man about to sprinkle where he tinkled to shove off or words to that effect. He gave the young man a push in the direction of the male toilets. Incident over. That I think was the right reaction. Not to document and load it the pissing man up on social media – and given the crowd was so tightly packed it would have an unpleasant, to say the least, alternative outcome.

 

In Cheryl’s case it was her tattoo artist who loaded up the picture. It just makes me wonder if he had permission to do this. I don’t know for sure but I get the impression that Cheryl would not have tweeted her bum.

 

Finally with the young Miley. If her attempt was to attract attention then that was one hundred percent successful. But my guff would be less with her antics, to use an old fashioned work for new-fangled twerking, and more with the fact that CNN posted this as their top news story. There was quite a back lash from the serious news community and rightly so, as serious pundits decried the attempt to drive traffic over communicating news. There is no way a young girl pushing dancing boundaries at an awards ceremony should had rated the top news story over Syria, Eqypt, and all that other stuff going on out there on a daily basis including criminal chemical infanticide.

 

So, I am reminded overall of the Gold Rush in the West. The dreamers went out and panned for gold, or committed fellatio, or tattoed their bottoms and twerked, but the observers posted the pics or as in the good old days, they sold the picks and the shovels and the panning sieves. Just who is responsible and who wins. And now, who is ready to go back to school and normality?

 

Blast from the past…

Courting in the Ambassador by PlanetPictureKoda

I didn’t make the final TV documentary – See you at the Pictures – but they did clip this funny memory.

Click HERE for the snippet (hint, it’s all about elbows!)

Jill planet picture koda

 

Retreating … not drowning

wicklow retreat 3

There was about twenty of us ranged in a circle in the Wilderness Lodge in Glemalure, Co Wicklow, of different ages, nationalities and backgrounds. We were on a retreat, for some of us our first ever such experience, on an Internal Alchemy and Qi Gong workshop which was to last two days.

 

 

We were asked by our instructor, affectionately referred to as the Mayo Monk, for our reasons for attending. One by one we gave our answers and they hit a refrain of wanting to de-stress from our busy lives while connecting with our inner selves.

 

wicklow retreat 5

We were glamping in the field beside the centre, in bell tents beautifully decorated and furnished – only luxury surroundings for our poor stressed bodies. And the food, well we were to be fed like kings for the weekend with home-made dishes and salads and bbqs and endless cups of green tea.

 

 

Ok, first let me explain the theory about Internal Alchemy. In this ancient Chinese discipline, it defines the five essential elements that make up the body; fire, water, wood, metal and earth. Each element is attached to a primary organ; fire to the heart, water to kidneys, wood to the liver, metal to lungs and earth to the spleen. Individually they work to sustain and balance the organs. The practice of qi gong and internal alchemy is to open up channels in the body and allow a free flow of energy to connect these elements. Illness or emotional distress is believed to be the result of these elements becoming weak or disconnected.

wicklow retreat 2

We did a lot of exercises to connect with the earth and also with the other elements. We were taught to stand with our bodies rooted in the earth, making it virtually impossible to push us over. We were taught to breathe so that we used the whole of our lungs, creating ‘Buddha bellies’ as we filled our lungs to the maximum and pushed our diaphragms down. Actually, breathing was one of the most important parts of our training and exercises. Overlooked in its daily crucial importance, the longest recorded absence of breathe being 17 minutes in a living person, breathing is fundamental to connecting our elements and our bodies in flows of energy. We learnt how to make noises congruent with the expulsion of air according to the organs we were targeting; a mixture of shhh, choo, haaaa, ugggh noises being generated throughout the weekend.

 

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We mediated with smiles and light. Some of us fell asleep during these practices and the slight telltale snore might escape from the person to your right or your left. We practiced strange dances, repetitive movements like ballerinas on go-slow, using our arms and hands to carve emotions through the air, drawing energies from the sky or rooting our bodies to the earth.

 

We perfected our grounding stance, then aligned our spines while stretched across two chairs. An interloper might have imagined we were, well I’m actually not sure what they might think, but it would have looked strange as volunteers pushed up their hips, only to be straddled by a trainer and pushed back down again. The net effect of this tussle was the strengthening of lumber muscles and so when we assumed the grounded position again once back on two legs, it felt much stronger after this exercise. Yes, this paragraph is full of involuntary innuendoes and we did giggle a bit.

wicklow retreat 4Actually we giggled a lot. Some of the noises made us laugh out loud. Some of the practices produced stifled giggles that crescendoed into belly laughs. Sometimes we just laughed for no reason. Other times, we were silent but for our breathing.  Into those silences our Mayo Monk might play a single chime produced on his bowl and gong. It rang through our spines deep into our bodies and we followed the energy flows with our minds.

 

There were breaks and these were filled with talking, non-stop talking, like school children released by the bell. We grouped and regrouped and made new friends and found old ones. We formed huddles but by the next break, these dissolved into new huddles. We moved by osmosis throughout the group, blending and mixing without overlap or isolation.

wicklow retreat 6In the debrief, again we were asked if we had achieved what we had desired. To a person, we all said yes. We all also said what made our weekend was our fellow travellers. No two people were alike, yet we had all coalesced into a tight group by the end of the two days. Some were quiet, some noisy, some tee total, some managed to stay in the Glenmalure pub until 3am on the Saturday night, some were early risers, some were not (see previous group), some snored, some talked late into the night, some talked early in the morning, their voices running through the other tents like a wake-up call. And then there was the herd of young horses which stampeded their way up to the tents in a ground breaking fury at five am in the morning, only to stop short and trot away, their mischief done!

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I had my retreat cheery popped in Glenmalure and I have to say it exceeded all expectations. To the organisers Karen, Paul and Lisa well done, to the glamping doyen Maria top marks and to our lovely Mayo Monk, Colin, thank you for an outstanding experience.

 

For more details visit:

 

Wicklow Holistic Retreats 

Leinster Nutrition 

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 Carol, Barry and family were not on the retreat but they popped in to say hello. It was that kind of a weekend!