Debt Becomes Her

At the end of last year, as the debate over our national indebtedness continues, there was a horrific story that hit the headlines:  A professional Irish man who had lost his job and was currently unemployed, was struggling to pay his mortgage. And in struggling to pay his mortgage, he was neglecting to feed his children. The story grew even more terrible as it transpired he found his daughter in her bedroom chewing on cardboard from a cereal packet to stave off the hunger.

This story is frightening from so many perspectives that it is hard to know where to begin. One really scary point is that it is being told in modern Ireland. This was not, when I last looked, a Third World country with no infrastructure, no police force, and no welfare state. This is a country that recently entertained the Queen and the President of the United States of America. We spent millions on security, on entertainment, on promoting the visits but they went without hitch and even with a fair degree of pride. In terms of keeping up with the Joneses, we were right up there. Is feider linn we all repeated after the O’Bama from Moneygall. After all, he should know.

We may be a broken country, with a ruling party that used cronyism to bring us to our knees financially, a judiciary that has bled the country in tribunals as we investigate those leaders who were never brought to justice, and a financial system that poured loans like poison down our necks. Albeit we opened our mouths wide, but we were told it was good for us, would make us better and moreover the financial institutions said how much they cared for us, cared enough to loan us millions and trillions. Now we are tasting the medicine and it no longer seems so sweet. But how did we end up with a desperate man feeding the greedy bank rather than his hungry children?

It seems to speak to several aspects of our national psyche, none of which is terribly edifying. When did blind obedience to paying a mortgage come ahead of feeding our children? When did the gaping maw of a greedy bank surpass that of a child’s needs? It seems to hearken back to the times of paying the shilling to the insurance man so that in times of hardship, money could be found. Of course, those weekly payments stopped once hardship began so when real privation arrived, there was only loss. So why in the 21st century is the shilling still being paid. And why does it appear that this duty only applies to lowly people. We have seen, and often, the rules changed for leaders in our society. Why can developers, bankers and politicians blithely ignore those same rules and indeed they often profit when things go wrong. How does this work? We all know by now that bankruptcy is a punitive weapon in Irish law designed to curtail and limit failed business people. However, at the top it is interesting to witness that those business people who have gone bankrupt have at the same time made their spouses very rich.  The same people who have ridden this country to the edge of collapse are retired off, rats leaving the ship, but beset at all sides with golden handshakes, pendulous pensions and exorbitant expenses.

Then there is the age old sacrifice to land. We have not moved very far from The Field if we consider that our house is worth more than our children. There is loss, take it on the chin and move on. Of course, in Irish law, this is not possible. The banks, those providers of sweet honey in times of good, take no risk and take no responsibility for their actions. If that man fails, they will take his house but he still keeps any debt.

Where is the way out?

Sometimes we try so hard, fight so hard, work so hard that we cannot see a way out. The backbones of this country, people who get up every day and work, who believe in the dignity of labour, have been dumped upon from a great height and with a large amount of excrement. Sometimes there needs to be a halt.

Halting is much harder than it looks. Inertia may ironically keep you working but it is very hard to stop. Stop paying; stop being a good citizen, stop worrying about meeting direct debits and loans and standing orders. It also means not looking people in the eye. Not answering any blocked calls or indeed any unknown numbers. It means writing, repeatedly, I have no money. I cannot pay that bill or any bill for that matter.

How does a person reach that point? How do you get the courage to say ‘Stop the world I want to get off’ and still live in that world?

It is no one thing, it is many things. Remember the sermon of the glass being full? First we are shown it full of small rocks, full to the brim.

Not so, says the preacher, adding smaller stones. Still not full, he says as he adds sand to the very brim. Still not full, and he adds water. Now it is full.

I reached my own epiphany addition by addition until the water reached the top of the glass. It was a many stepped epiphany as slowly by slowly the scales fell from my eyes. Many small epiphanies maketh one big mother fucker of an eye opener!

A man to whom I was once married, a husband, took his leave of me in a cruel fashion. The professionals assigned to help me double-mugged me like Asyraf Haziq, that poor Malaysian student mugged during the London riots at the end of 2011. Supposed helpers filched his wallet and phone from his bag, as others helped the wounded man up. What that man who was once married to me could not take, the legal profession scooped up. There was no justice in the legal system for me or my children. I learnt at first hand the purpose of those rocks in the glass. They were to stone me.

The law continued to mug me. When that man who was once married to me left Ireland, he went bankrupt in a kinder jurisdiction, a jurisdiction that cleansed his debt within twelve months. And as a divorce present he gave all the Irish debt to me.

Now the financial institutions lined up. A mortgage that had been given in generous times had flipped into negative equity, serious negative equity, now almost twice the value of the asset. I sought a solution. I was lectured on the sin of looking for debt forgiveness. As the sand rained down on me, I began to choke with frustration. I was not the expert in the purchase of the loan. I bought only one house in Ireland. I did not produce the valuation nor undertake the evaluation of my ability to pay. Moreover, I had poured my life’s savings and earnings into that house. I stood to lose everything. The bank stood to lose half of its gamble. Except of course we do not have loans of no recourse in Ireland. So while the bank may have lost half, it was still free to chase me for the remainder. Buried deep in sand the debt suffocates me. There is no forgiveness of debt nor fairness in risk.

I cannot even claw back some air, selling the house at market value to reduce half my debt. The bank said it was not enough and left me buried up to my chin in sand and debt.

Then, as if I needed more, the demise of my business forced me to close my company. Maybe it was something to do with the fact that I had been stoned by the legal system that was supposed to protect me and buried in sand by the bank that was to help me put a roof over my head and over my children’s heads. How can someone still work, work effectively, when mugged, stoned and incapacitated? Tied up and tied down until life itself is a struggle. I was left alone to try and fund the company debts and as the water flowed into the glass I was no longer able to breathe. I had no choice but to stop.

Stopping is very liberating. I swam towards the white light, leaving my debt behind.

Of course, not paying my debt doesn’t mean the debt collectors don’t stop chasing me. If I don’t answer my phone to you my friend, then make sure to put your number in contacts. I have put my children first. I will work for them and to put food on the table for them. I refuse to work for the architects of our country’s destruction. I will only work for my children.

I have shifted my priorities and I am unsure of the outcome. I have no call on the social welfare, no call on the taxpayers of Ireland, no cost to anyone other than myself. I have shed my possessions and am clean. Not cleansed, just clean.

If I cannot empty my full glass of debt through commonsense, a rationale approach and morally correct actions, then I will jump glasses. Do you like my new glass? It is full of light and joy: there are no rocks to stone me, no stones to hide surprises under, no sand to bury me, and no water to drown me.

 

copyright @ Jillian Godsil

 

How do you find the middle?

Bang in the Middle!

 

Jillian Godsil became divorced. Her ex husband became bankrupt and she was left with a million euro mortgage on a house worth half that. This is her story about being in the middle.

 

 

How do you know when you are in the middle? Is it by age, experience or weight? As the Ardal O’Hanlon joke goes, everyone wants to know your weight at birth but no one wants to know at death. So how can we tell where we are? Age is equally arbitrary; genes and luck count in unequal amounts; some of the healthiest people I know have been struck down in car accidents, lives wrenched horribly short. Or do the gods wait for us to complete our own personal bucket list? And what if we are too conservative or wildly over-optimistic? Does that have any bearing on what we get to finish and can we keep on topping that list up every year if we are lucky enough to reach those ambitions?

I am hoping I am only at the middle. It feels a bit like Peter Pan and Tinkerbell: she may have pleaded for everyone to believe in fairies; I am hoping the same goes for second chances.

Our lives, if experience be the key, are defined by markers: chance happenings, major events, goals achieved or dreams lost. My hope for a second chance comes after one of those life-changing experiences, divorce. It is like the sea parting for Moses. There was a before and now there is an after.

Of course, when you hit a major marker you think it is the marker, the marker that defines who you are as a person. I could list half a dozen markers all of significant importance; going to Trinity College Dublin, working in the city of London, moving to Sydney, getting married, living in Singapore, having children, returning home, losing my father, writing my novel and learning to ride a horse.

I think divorce is perhaps one of the more significant markers possibly because of its proximity to the middle of my life (again that hope), the point where I must start again. And also, aside from childbirth, one of the single biggest disruptions to my life across the board; emotionally, financially and socially.

I remember at sixteen thinking the world had suddenly notched up a gear and was spinning a little faster than before. I asked my mother, then a mere fifty, if things slowed up at her extreme age. ‘No,’ she replied. ‘It only gets faster.’ Thinking about this article, I checked in with her again, now a sprightly eighty. ‘No,’ she replied. ‘It only gets faster and more precious.’

And so it seems. Trinity for me was one of my first major new departures: the stepping from childhood into adulthood. For four years I lapped up the special atmosphere that is Trinity. Summers were spent working as a waitress in the states and while I loved it, I also ached for the return to Trinity where I could stretch my mind. Of course I spent most of my time doing the mundane: attending lectures, eating chips in the Buttery, drinking coffee in the sunshine that came each May before exams. But I did, and often before walked through front arch and think wow, I study here, I study here.

I recently returned to a Trinity English Alumni Talk in the Long Room Hub. After my nervousness of trying to find the new building built long after my graduation, teenage angst all over again, I soon slipped back into that thankful state in which I called Trinity the best four years of my life.

London was another departure, a literal one. I remember ten years previously my eldest sister left to nurse in London for six months. The entire family came to the airport in tearful support reminiscent of famine emigration scenes. Fast forward to 1987 and only my parents were there to see me off; travel wasn’t such a big deal then or else the world had collapsed enough for the move to be seen as a minor one.

London in the late 1980s was fast and furious; it was fun, hurricanes, stock market crashes, boozy lunches and champagne breakfasts. It was sweaty tube rides in summer and late night trips to the curry house. I made my first, and financially disastrous, foray into property, buying a lovely Georgian flat with a friend. ‘You can’t go wrong buying property in London,’ I told my parents. Words that echo to my present condition. Oh, if only I had listened to myself!

London was also the city of romance one Christmas. I met my future husband and we paired like love-sick swain. Of course, my stories from here on in have all to be rewritten a little. The victor gets to write history and the divorcee gets to look at the pursuit of love with a slightly cynical eye. As those endearing traits much loved in a new romance can fester into irritating habits, so too the path to true love seems a little less rosy when viewed through the mirror backwards.

Three months together and he was posted to Australia by the bank we both worked for. I always wanted to go to Australia.

So engaged, apartment sold for a loss, parents and family departed from again but I seem to recall more of a send off as Australia was definitely a long way away, and I arrived in Sydney. Now, this was a marker. I stepped off the plane and into the limousine rented by my fiancée for the occasion.

If London was fast and furious,Sydney was hot and laid back. Here I learned to love shiraz and that oaked chardonnay that is so uncool today. I still love both since I refuse to follow fashion. We sunbathed in winter, bbq’d all year round and modified our twang a little. ‘How are you going?’ replaced ‘How are you doing?’ Instead of finding a parking spot, we found a park. And in the middle, had we but known it was the middle, we flew off to Fiji to get married on Valentine’s Day on a little beach with only a Fijian choir for company.

So, now I was starting to grow up. I was starting to accumulate those additions that separate a girl from a woman. I had a degree, had owned a flat, worked abroad and now had a husband. Whatever next?

Singapore was next. This brief two-year period was lived in temperatures of 30 degrees day and night. And here I conceived and gave birth to my elder daughter,Georgina. There was no getting away from the fact I was getting all grown up now. I had a daughter to prove it.

Becoming a mother also made me homesick. I wanted to be in the cool mists that descend from the Kerry Mountains and to walk through the damp streets of Dingle. The fact that I had never been to Dingle was irrelevant, I just had to go back to Ireland. Motherhood and motherland were inextricably linked.

So too was fatherhood, or rather my father. Worries about losing him brought me home too. I was lucky: we enjoyed many more years before he died in his eighty-seventh year. The tragedy was that my father-in-law died two days earlier. The double loss was terrible since two grieving people are often no good to each other.

So we returned to Dublin. This was familiar ground again and I loved it, especially having my family so close again. We bought a beautiful Georgian house in Rathmines, I gave birth to my second daughter, Kathryn, and settled in for the long haul. But I got it very wrong again. I said I would be taken out of my lovely home in a box, and while fortunately I was not, sadly we did sell up.

Next stop Raheengraney House, the reason for this voyage through my life. Here was a beautiful manor house in very poor repair sitting in a field, a bit like the house in Father Ted. Of course, to ardent restorers, the worse the repair the better the challenge. My mother fell through floorboards in the attic, not seriously, but that only made us keener. Both families felt we were a bit mad but appreciated the challenge.
The move was precipitated by my husband’s desire to change careers. He was tired of banking and was an excellent cook and so we thought we’d run a guesthouse. What we didn’t factor in was my extreme dislike of chamber maid duties and his propensity to behave like Basil Fawlty.

Raheengraney House

Accordingly, Raheengraney House, like Lady Havisham in all her wedding finery, was made up with all the bells and bows that could be found. She sat there waiting for her guests and she waited and she waited.

Ah, the lack of guests. This can be explained in two ways, or perhaps three. For the first refer back to the reluctant chambermaid and the grumpy chef; I have been reliably informed since that all chefs are grumpy. Then there was the rude awakening to the fact that running a guest house does not pay very well. Finally, my fledging newly formed public relations business had taken off and the bills were better paid from the basement where I lodged my office than from the glorious bedrooms and their fine views.

Around that time my life settled into a rut. You might imagine that I would have welcomed such as rut after all the house-jumping and country-hopping I had experienced. And yes I did, although it was not without its complications. The most glaring disruption to our lives was the reversal of roles. Previously my husband had been the main breadwinner, although I worked furiously behind to catch up. Now I was the sole breadwinner and he diversified into other fields; gardening, construction of a guest cottage, green energy, furniture-making, even writing at one stage, I seem to recall.

Sometimes it is only when roles get thrown up and reversed that cracks can appear. It took some time but our compatibility issues came slowly to the fore. Even I, the most horribly optimistic person you could hope to meet, began to feel that all was not what it should be or could be. I was horrified to discover that I could not see myself settling into old age with my husband, especially when the children would have left home. It was a terrible feeling but one that I could not ignore. I also felt that I was not in the middle at all; I felt I was at the end.

How does one begin the hardest journey of one’s life? One step at a time, one step at a time. With feet like clay, I began that process. I had no idea how hard it was going to be. I was so naïve thinking a marriage could be unravelled as easily as it was made. It was like going to see a romantic comedy only to discover you had booked into the dark thriller film showing next door instead. And in that journey I lost my husband – albeit that I did the losing, all my financial security, most of our joint friends and my social standing.

There is a powerful prayer often spoken at funerals. It speaks of God and man walking hand in hand with their footprints together in the sand. At the darkest point, the footsteps reduce to only one set and the man asks, ‘Why did you leave me when I needed you most?’ ‘It was then I was carrying you,’ God replies.

So too with life.

Of course journeys are not all gloom and doom, not all lost baggage and interminable delays in hot airports. There are many resting places, beautiful and unexpected vistas at the turn of the road or kind words spoken at the end of the day.

Selling my house on YouTube has been one of the surprising vistas. If I may step back and explain. Alliteration is a funny thing. With Divorce, comes Depression and Desperation and Debt, lots of it. As part of the divorce, our lovely Georgian manor house, Raheengraney House, was put on the market. It failed to sell. My now ex-husband returned to the UK. The mortgage, with arrears, soared to the million mark. The house value, now with tenants installed, sank to the half million mark. My ex became bankrupt and kindly gave all the debt to me, every last red cent.

In desperation, I made a video and tried to sell the house. To my amazement the video went viral in April 2011.  The interest and the coverage was shocking, amazing and wonderful, if a little exhausting. There have been many awesome moments in this episode and one of the best stories comes from Mark Little, journalist and cofounder of Storyful. He was in New York during the second week of the video going viral and got asked about my house from people in the The New York Times and The Huffington Post. Wow, I had arrived.

Within two weeks I had a cash buyer for my house, but for half the value of the mortgage. I celebrated, prematurely as it turns out, and asked the bank to join with me in the sale. I waited and I waited. They refused and they refused. I proposed and I proposed. They refused again. And after three long and frustrating months my patient buyer went away.

So I was back to square one. I still own a lovely Georgian manor house but the grass has now grown up to the windows. I have sold the curtains from the rooms, the granite troughs from the gardens, the ovens from the kitchen. It hurts like a knife each time I take something away from my house but I have to live. It and I are in a state of stasis.

The past four years have led to me the middle but it’s not all bad. As my mother reminds me frequently – Ever Onwards and Upwards, Maybe Sideways, but never Backwards!

In my four-year journey from married woman to new me I have had some of the most fantastic of experiences, intense joys and new-found confidence. My first step felt like the first step of my last journey, but now I know and hope it is only one of many, many more.

I learnt to ride a horse and to showjump, winning rosettes in competitions and even one in the national riding club festival. I went on a cattle drive to Montana and an equestrian safari in South Africa. I wrote my first novel, Running out of Road, and have begun my second. I went on writing courses and have joined writing groups. I write on a regular basis. I learnt to cook. Before my children said I burnt pizzas. Four years on and they have not starved. I found new friends. I had too: my old ones found it too difficult to remain neutral. I have made loads of mistakes. I have watched my girls grow. I have watched them showjump for their school and the ponyclub. I have even watched them, my heart swelling with pride, as they competed for their school and country in Hickstead in the UK. I have recently watched my eldest learn to drive, which caused my heart to palpitate for different reasons. I have been signed up by Assets Modelling agency, although no jobs have arrived as yet. I have learnt the joy of running and am a regular fixture on my treadmill before work most mornings. I have taken up kick-boxing classes and I love it. I have read more books than ever before and love the mobile library that parks in Shillelagh every second week. I enjoy my life and I laugh a lot. I have friends who laugh a lot. I can’t stop laughing.

So where am I? I really hope I’m only in the middle. I’ve living life like I’m only in the middle. And if I’m not, please don’t tell me because I don’t want to know!

Click here for the viral video

Jillian Godsil September 2011

Raheengraney House – an Historic Story from the Future (fiction)

It is the year of the Green Gods 3011 and I am named Seth. I am in my final year of Home Schooling: next year I will join my brothers on the Mars Satellite for a three year rotation. The rotations are getting longer as we run out of oxygen here on earth. The planting decrees came too late and only small bubbles of breathable gases are still found on earth, Ireland being one such bubble.

As it our custom when we leave a planet, we must write a leave taking. My tutors have explained that each leave taking should be viewed as a final, standalone account. Just in case we have a final, final conflict, and yes the irony is not lost on me. People once wrote on parchment, then on paper and the printing press seemed to create a lasting legacy. But of course parchment can turn to dust and books can be burnt or lost in floods. Then people believed that what was written on the internet would live for ever, but this too turned out to be false. If you have no computers, there is no internet and data cannot remain suspended forever, and for many years this was the case. When the machines were turned back on, what had been written was lost. Lost into the ether, or was it the Ethernet! (sorry, this is a late twentieth century pun which I may explain later)

Anyway, this is my first time to write an account of my time. I have reached maturity at 16 years and will shortly move to Mars where I shall take on the responsibility of an adult and live the life of an adult. So I write this for my legacy, my children, even my returning, older self. I shall try and write everything I feel of importance, in case being on another planet will make me forget what happened here. I write so that maybe, even if parchments dust and books burn and internet ceases, my account will survive. A copy will be lodged under my skin and this too may be retrieved, providing I survive or someone cares enough to pull it from my dead body. Hey, this is morbid thinking. I am writing for my future self who may wish to look back into my present youth. I do not think of failure.

So my life so far.

I have enjoyed living in quadrant Wicklow345 for my junior years. I arrived here from Norway with three other cadets and we have been billeted in a facility called Raheegraney House. As this house was built on the top of a hill, it escaped the great floods that covered much of Wicklow back in 2876. These followed the final conflict between what were once called nations. Nations have been dis-named and disallowed since. We are all only earthians, those of us that remain on earth. And when I join my brothers in Mars, I shall become a marthian. We are now named for where we live and not from where we come from. And as we move in rotations, these means a healthy person can be from most of the stars and planets in this galaxy. There is no more war.

I am excited to move to the Mars satellite but I am not looking forward to the journey. We shall be put to sleep and not woken until destination, a journey of some fifteen months. That is the optimum balance between space lag and rocket speeds. Fifteen months seems a long time to lose to sleep, but I will be able to learn a new language as I rest and also I have pre booked history learning covering the previous millennia. I am a keen student of history. While I sleep, my brain at least will be busy learning. The newer technologies mean too my body will be moved via electrical impulses, otherwise I would wake as a near corpse, with wasted muscles and feeble body. The early pioneers suffered terribly in their space exploration in the middle of the last millennium. They were not given a choice like laboratory rats from an even more distance past. While I lament their treatment, I am thankful space travel is now relatively easy, if still time consuming.

I have been watching vintage television; this was an entertainment tool within a single element, a box or screen. The programmes made are now stored on the ancient history channels which I love. Their views of space were dictated by men with pointy ears and they could teleport people onto planets. As if!

I enjoyed my time in quadrant Wicklow345. The area not covered by water is relatively small, but the house is friendly and cosy. I shared the top room with my three fellow cadets from Norway. I did some research while I was stationed there. The early history, over a thousand years ago is hard to trace. Very little remains as all papers were burnt, shredded or used to provide warmth during the final conflict. The conflict happened too fast and coupled with the natural disasters that rocked the earth, people could not save themselves let along any belongings. This is a good thing for we are not allowed to own possessions any more. The house where we are billeted was once a private home. I cannot believe that one family lived here, that only one family owned it. Now it is home to more than 50 people in total, when you include the outbuildings. It is also a centre for learning which means I had some real tutors rather than just automated teaching guides.

What I discovered about the house was very interesting. It is very old, more than a thousand years old in fact. It was built back in the late 1700s for one family who lived there until the mid 1900s. It was then owned by a local farmer for some years before being sold to a family who moved from Dublin. Dublin was once the main metropolis for Ireland until it was flooded. You can still seem the tops of some of the main buildings poking up through the water. Unlike other cities,Dublin did not have many very high buildings and there is little to see, or to catch on a vessel, which is the opposite of other places. For example, it is used to lethal to travel across where the flooding above North America at one stage because of the sky scrapers. We lost many exploration vessels in the early days before the new oceans were mapped. Of course, our navigation has powered on tremendously since too. Now, any remaining outshoots have either been topped or warning cones erected. It is scary to look down through the water and see the outlines of masonry below. Many millions of people were trapped in the floods and after the conflict, their bodies bobbed like scum at a beach. Now, an occasional shifting of plates or slow collapse of buildings under water, means bodies are released to the surface, just bones of course now. But sometimes a doll or some plastic artifact pops up, looking the same as it did some 200 years ago.

Anyway, back to my billet. This house was famous in its own right, and not just as a survivor of the local flooding. One thousand years ago, exactly to this year, the then owners divorced. Divorce means separate from a married state and was a very painful experience. Marriage was the main cause or precursor to divorce. Both historic situations seem to have been managed by couples at their volition and it appeared people ping-ponged between these two legal contracts, but not often very happily, while at the same time incurring great and unnecessary expense. I am not quite sure why it cost so much money, but I think lawyers may have had something to do with it. Lawyers are banned from our world, only mediators remain.

Now of course, we are programmed to be compatible with our mates, and when we move rotations, sometimes our help mates are switched, especially if there are sound physical and geographical reasons to do so. It makes for variety and we don’t do love any more. Love and hate were blamed as the two big reasons for the earth failing in the last millennium.

As I understand it, a thousand years ago, people fell in love and got married. But sometimes it didn’t work and rather than just re programme to a new mate, people fell out of love and into hate and got divorced. There were just too many emotions, which we have also largely banned too. It makes for a calmer world and we will survive this way.

Anyway, back to my story. The couple divorced and he went to live in the UK. This used to be a country next to Ireland but sheer volume of people trapped on the island during the conflict meant it capsized and most of them were lost.  It was a very smelly part of the ocean for about 50 years as the bodies decayed on the surface. New prevailing currents meant the dead populace floated over to where Europe used to be. This was lucky, else the few green patches in Ireland would have ended up as rotting dumps and we would have lost a valuable source of oxygen for earthly billets.

The woman who was divorced and who remained in my billet, Raheengraney House, in Ireland attempted to sell the house. She used a digital format, a precursor to our current ultimate reality, called the internet to find a buyer. She became a global sensation but despite finding a buyer, she was locked into a deadly financial bind. In those days people used money to buy things and organisations called banks held the money. They said what the people could and could not do. In fact, people did not own the money at all. It was all owned by the banks. But these banks had a stranglehold on the people at that time. Of course, with the abolition of money, banks have long since gone, but they were a parasitic curse inflicted on ordinary people.

I have since discovered, the woman went on to win the lottery. This we still have of course, but in those days it only delivered money. She bought back the house and lived there to a great old age of 96. She wrote several novels, her first becoming accredited reading for state schools until they banned cursing. It is still used as a social document in some teaching establishments. It is called Running out of Road but when I tried to read it, the banned text (mostly cursing I understand although some sex also) meant I could not read one in twenty lines. The bits I could read made me laugh though. Did I mention sex? That is also banned although I know some rogue cadets have been caught trying it. They were given emotion blockers and send on early to the Venus Satellite, and despite its name Venue is not a good satellite to spend time on. Anyway, the woman had a great time writing all about cursing and sex. She became quite famous for that too I think. She had a happy ending which I like, although happy endings are largely frowned upon from mainstream reading materials. She married once more, won many awards and even had her own television programme – on those box entertainment toys.

I only subscribe to one lottery – we don’t do money anymore – but the New You Lottery offers a new cloned body which I can claim at any time. They are very expensive to produce and so only a couple of clones are created each year. If I win my lottery I aim to replace and remodel myself at age 46. This will be the perfect time and I will also trade in my old help mate for a new one, around a twenty year old should be perfect.  They say some things do not change.

© Jillian Godsil 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Many Colours of Yellow

There are things that cannot be mended, cannot be fixed, cannot be found. We try all the time to find the reason, call the name, find the cure. But sometimes it just does not exist. And all the brown paper and glue cannot make it right again.

We tumbled down that hill and our bruises are as real and yellow as canaries or sunflowers or daffodils. They are also the colour of chardonnay, the colour of perfume, the colour of a glass of Powers Gold Label.

Canaries sing down the mines, sing in their cages. Daffs and sunflowers spread their pollen like poison, etching misty fingers in an indelible path. But bruises will fade, pass away, leaving only a trace on the skin.

Jaundice will do its part too. And carrots, apparently. Even weak sunshine will leave its yellow shadow on some.

Yellow used to be such a pretty colour in our youth, but as we age it has become the colour of urine

When we are broken, we cannot dream any more. This can be called a state of yellow. The yellow belly of defeat.

And how do we mend? This is also the colour of yellow. The bright sunshine streaming in through the window. The first creep of yellow in the field in spring to the burnished yellow of the ripe rapeseed crop. Blinding yellow as we drive through the countryside, fastened on all sides with luminous crops.

Filaments of yellow hang in the light bulb. Suspended above our head, or gently waving in a summer’s evening, above and warming while we swing on the porch. We barely notice it, but it’s there all the while.

Yellow is also the colour of melting butter on toast. Especially the first toast after  childbirth: the first most delicious of all foods to the new parent. Each time is better than the last, each expectation better than the first. Oh, the mother of six children must love that toast and butter, better and better.

At the end of the day, colours are what we think of them. They cannot exist alone. But we indulge and instill our emotions so they take on our hue, cast and colour. I am a yellow person. Not for some imagined weakness on my part, on their part, but for the possibility. The possibility that I might glow in the dark, mellow in the yellow, burnish in the afternoon.

I may be broken, unfixed and lost. But I still may yet burn with a yellow glow, pour through a window with intensity or feast upon a new day with gleaming eyes. I may be yellow but I have hope. I have hope, canary hope.

 

© Jillian Godsil 2012

 

Letting Go and Binding Fast – A Poem for my Children

 

The umbilical cord

Stretches as far as the eye cannot see

And beyond that which the mind cannot imagine.

 

It has infinite elastic and give,

Timeless reach and understanding

For things and worlds that I cannot hope to comprehend.

As my parents before me turned their lives upside down

And accepted on trust the new worlds I gave them

So too I reach out and hold my children’s new truths,

new livings, new infinites.

 

There is very little old in the new

Snippets and snatches of times before

But most is new forged, new gotten, begotten

And the old is mostly forgotten.

 

Save for the combined tug tied up in the sinewy cord

A tug that pulls back even as it gives forward

An army of mothers have passed it along

And it loops and pools over generations, through families and out of sight

A sinewy thread that binds as it loosens, tugs as it gives

Holding and giving and letting go.

 

© Jillian Godsil 2012

I’d almost forgotten what it was like…(fiction)

…to feel warm sand between my toes. Of course, the last time I’d enjoyed a sun holiday was when my children were very young. Fast forward through recession, divorce and financial ruin and it had been almost twenty years. And now I weighed in at almost 26 stone. I may well have lost a few pounds, pun pun, along the way but I had bulked up on my weight. My obese body was a bulwark again the world, that horrible shivering miserable mess that lay in wait for me. With food there was no answering back, no reproachful looks, no tearful conversations. Just plain satisfaction and I could call the shots.

Of course, while it was wonderful to feel the sand between my toes, I could not see them. My large breasts and rolling belly obscured all views of what might lie below. Unless I sat well back in the sun lounge and pushed my toes out, only then could I see the tips of my fat toes and feet. ‘Oh hello toes’ I said. ‘Enjoying the sun and the sand?’

The other problem with being obese was burning. There was more skin than ever, skin stretched tight over mountainous rolls and all of it very pink and vulnerable. I wore large tops but I also stayed under the umbrella, so the only part of me in the sun was my feet – as I edged them outside the protection of the umbrella, just for a moment to feel the sun, before pulling them in again. The sand was warm regardless.

I had traveled with Roger. A patient man, a man who enjoyed my company and to a degree my size. I was never quite sure if he found the mark but he enjoyed himself amongst my folds. It is said that as god made them, he matched them. Husband number one was less than my match but Roger more than made up for my skinny years.

They say in every fat person there is a skinny person trying to escape. I totally disagree. There is no skinny person inside of me, not any more. I regret that stick thin freak, all bone and sinew and muscle. I worked so hard to maintain my skinny figure and it gained me naught. Letting go was the most liberating feeling ever. With every cake, hot dog and takeaway I ate I could feel the pounds pile on and the happiness grow.

Of course, my grown up boys find it strange. All their young years I was the skinny naggy whiny mother who watched them eat but pushed her own food around the plate. I have replaced sarcasm with kindness and forced enjoyment with genuine pleasure. In this size obsessed world, I know they are embarrassed at my voluptuousness, well obesity if I am honest, but they like me more now. I don’t shout – how can I, my mouth is too often full of food! I don’t give out now – who am I to comment on how they lead their lives. And while they tolerate Roger, who is kind, I can send blushes of the deepest red to their faces if I mention our sex. Though why is it more embarrassing to think of their overweight mother doing it with Roger than to think of their father with his skinny wife number two, I don’t know.

I’d almost forgotten many things before I met Roger. He is a slim man and slightly shorter than me too. I am bigger than him lying down and standing up. He does not shout, or complain or give out or talk out. He is gentle but I worry sometimes if he is strong enough. If I fell, would he be able to heft me up? If I rolled over on him at night, might I suffocate him? This holiday is a real triumph of faith over fat. From squeezing into the airplane and walking up and down those rickety airline steps, to finding a swimsuit to fit (we didn’t) but I was not sure I wanted to swim anyway. I have threatened to go skinny dipping instead to the huge embarrassment of my boys and the side splitting laughter of Roger.  I may yet, when it is cooler, remove my tent-like top and skirt, and descend majestically, as a large ship moves with grace, and sail down the beach and into the water. If I tried this at dusk, no one would see me but Roger. It is early in the season and guests are rare on the beach.

I’d almost forgotten what it was like to feel the sand between my toes, but I’d never known what it was like to swim naked in the sea. Ah, there is a first time for everything, even for me.

 

© Jillian Godsil 2012