The Tricolour

The Irish Tricolour, with its distinctive stripes of Green, White and Orange, is often viewed as a militant flag, a direct contrast and challenge to the British Union Jack and owned solely by one tradition in Ireland – the nationalist Catholic community. In fact, its origins could not be further from the truth and there is currently a movement to rehabilitate its image and indeed to encourage its widespread use in the same way that Americans, of whatever ethnicity, fly their national flag in backyards across the States.

tricolourThe Irish Tricolour was first flown in Waterford by Thomas Francis Meagher on March 7, 1848, at the Wolfe Tone Confederate Club at 33 The Mall. This was also of significance as Wolfe Tone a century before had fired up a movement that said: ‘Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter all unite under the common name of United Irishman.’  Meagher had just returned from France and wanted to realise a vision of a New Ireland from the wreck of the old sectarian Ireland. The band of white in the flag was the symbol of peace to join Irish Catholic with Irish Protestant and to forge a new unity and brotherhood between the two sides in a country that had been desecrated by the Great Famine.

 

Meagher went on to take part in the Young Ireland Famine Rebellion and subsequently sentenced to death for treason. This judgement was parleyed by Queen Victoria into deportation to Tasmania from which he escaped and moved to America. There Meagher continued to make a difference and this time joined the Union in the American Civil War. He raised a full company to fight with the 69th Infantry Regiment and went to head up the Irish Brigade. As a result of his involvement, the 69th Regiment became known as the Fighting 69ners. Following the war he was appointed Governor of Montana where he was institutional in bringing that territory towards statehood – the grant of which only happened twenty years after his death.  He is commemorated by statutes both in his native Waterford and in Helena, state capital of Montana.

A great orator, when he brought the flag to Ireland in 1848 he said:

…I trust that the old country will not refuse this symbol of a new life from one of her youngest children. I need not explain its meaning. The quick and passionate intellect of the generation now springing into arms will catch it at a glance. The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the “orange” and the “green” and I trust that beneath its folds, the hands of the Irish Protestant and the Irish Catholic may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood…” 

thomas meagher

But it was not until 1916 that the Tricolour was flown again, this time when it was raised at the GPO in Dublin during the Easter Uprising and it was not until 1937 that it was formally adopted as the national flag.

 

 

Six years ago visionary local historian James Doherty from Waterford recognised the significant of the Tricolour, its history and the links with the 69th Infantry Regiment in New York. The 1848 Tricolour Celebration Committee was established that reached out to the 69th Infantry Regiment which resulted in a delegation arriving in Waterford to cement the connections. Every year since, a delegation arrives and Meagher, the Tricolour and the 69ners are celebrated. This year, Waterford went one step further and on Thursday March 12 renamed the river Suir bridge the Thomas Francis Meagher Bridge. The river Suir bridge was completed in 2009, is part of the N25 Waterford bypass and the longest single-span bridge in the Republic .

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I was privileged to be part of the Island of Ireland Peace choir (formerly the Waterford Omagh Peace Choir) that sang at the Gala Dinner and subsequently at a formal military ceremony attended by full military honours and ambassadors, including this year Kevin Vickers, the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland. You may recall Kevin as he was the sergeant at arms that single handed stopped the lone terrorist attack on the Canadian Parliament last year.  Standing at well over six feet tall, Kevin commended the choir following its performance during the dinner. Our rendition of Oh Danny Boy had moved him to tears. The following day he joined in our singing, becoming an honorary member of the choir.

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Colonel Jim Tierney spoke at the dinner. He spoke in Gaelic, translating it afterwards into English for the non-Gaelic speakers and into English for the Gaelic speakers! He spoke about the impact of political correctness on the history of the Regiment. For much of the last quarter of the last century, the emphasis on diversity did not allow for the celebration of ethnicity. It was not until the Regiment got an invitation to come to Waterford five years ago that the links were refreshed and the Regiment had an emotional home-coming to Waterford. He and his men fully embraced the connection and wished to see it continue and grow year on year. He also spoke of the role of Irishmen in the American Civil War. Recent historians are now estimating that more Irishmen fought in the American Civil War than in World War One, with Meagher being an inspired leader, seeking justice for the repressed.

This talk was given in the Granville Hotel, originally the birthplace of Meagher and was a fitting location to lead such a tribute. And as for the breakfast – I am sure that Meagher would have been impressed with that too. A choir can only sing on its stomach and we sang like canaries after that!

One final interesting fact: the Tricolour when first flown outside 33 the Mall was raised back to front with the orange band next to the flagpole. The 1848 Tricolour committee spoke with the Irish Department of Defence for permission to re-enact this mistake but permission was refused. For those of you in the military you will already know the reason for refusal – a national flag flown upside down or the wrong way around is an international symbol of disaster or distress. And we were far from that in Waterford at the weekend.

Interesting links:

The Island of Ireland Peace choir in practice before the Gala Dinner

A RTE compilation

The Tricolour site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman who challenged law on bankrupts standing in elections wins costs

First printed in The Irish Times on February 24, 2015

Jillian Godsil found to have been ‘directly instrumental’ in bringing about a change in the law

jillian godsil

jillian godsil

 

 

 

 

 

A woman has been awarded the costs of her legal challenge which prompted legislation allowing undischarged bankrupts to run for Dáil and European elections.

Jillian Godsil — an Independent who stood in the European and local elections last May on an anti-debt platform — had asked the Supreme Court to award her the costs of herHigh Court challenge which was withdrawn when the Government changed the law. A three-judge Supreme Court unanimously ruled she is entitled to her full High Court costs. She was also awarded her costs in the Supreme Court.

Following the withdrawal of her action when the law was changed last year, the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, said she was only entitled to the administrative outlay costs, including stamp duty on filing documents.

Giving the Supreme Court’s decision awarding her all her costs, Mr Justice William McKechnie said Ms Godsil had been “directly instrumental” in bringing about a change in the law relating to bankruptcy which had stood since 1923. While such a result was not without precedent, it must surely be unusual, he said.

He could not see why “costs should not follow the event”, a standard phrase in law which means the loser pays the costs.

Given the facts of this case, and the absence of any disqualifying conduct or factors, he could not find anything which “either in justice or in logic would justify anything less than a full cost order in this regard”.

It was not necessary to address Ms Godsil’s argument that she should get costs because the case was brought in the public interest, Mr Justice McKechnie said.

Ms Godsil’s home in Wicklow was repossessed in 2013 and she applied to be declared bankrupt in February 2014 but found this disbarred her from running in the European elections, although not in the locals. She polled 9,179 first preferences in the IrelandSouth European constituency and 193 in the Baltinglass local election area.

In her appeal to the Supreme Court, she argued the Government had given no indication it would rush through a change in the law or even indicated it was considering such a change. As a result, she had to bring her legal challenge. Costs should also be awarded to her because the case was taken in the public interest, she claimed.

The State opposed her costs application saying she “waited until the last minute” to bring her challenge. The Government had moved expeditiously to change the law, it was also argued.

Fifty Shades started surge of Mammy Porn in Ireland

first printed in the Sunday Independent on February 2, 2016

Jillian Godsil, who wrote ‘The Cougar Diaries’, has interviewed people about the impact of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. With the film adaptation of the book about to hit our screens, she reckons men in the audiences could be in short supply

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PRIOR to the publication of Fifty Shades of Grey, what might be considered deviant sexual practices were not discussed at the dinner tables the length and breadth of Ireland, much less practised in the bedroom. But following on from the book’s publication, the conversation went mainstream and in between the sheets.

I started interviewing people and talking about the impact and found to my empirical knowledge that sex had mushroomed in Ireland. Taxi drivers, hotel porters and bartenders – the true barometers of Irish society – were having more sex than ever before and the women were driving the train.

Which is somewhat ironic since the protagonist in Fifty Shades is submissive and very passive. The very Irish women turned on by the book appeared to be tying up their men – and sales of rope in Woodies are going through the roof without a single shred of evidence of any DIY being done. So, the reason Irish men are smiling is less a case of ‘mommy porn’ and more a case of ‘mammy porn’, and you will do what you are told!

And now, the tale is coming to a cinema near you. Somehow, I don’t think this is going to be the ultimate romantic, first-date movie. In fact, I don’t think it will even mimic the Sex and the City experience where groups of women dressed up as their favourite character in the sitcom, drank cocktails and strode around town on impossibly tall heels.

We all know Fifty Shades has sold in huge numbers (about 100m and counting) but I am not sure how the transition from reading erotica to watching erotica on screen will play out. The former is normally a very intimate affair, the latter a public experience.

Then there is the question of appropriate fashion – will the ladies all bring their favourite piece of bondage equipment with them? And I say ‘ladies’ for I don’t think there will be that many brave male souls accompanying their partners to see the film. And for those guys, about to take that plunge, I salute you now gentlemen!

It is hard to believe that the novel was published only in 2011. The book, and the accompanying phenomenon, covered new ground, old ground and some very dodgy ground, but one thing is for sure, kinky went mainstream and there is no closing that particular drawer.

At the beginning of the Fifty Shades excitement, a number of elements were said to be behind its success. The first was the popularity of online book stores and electronic devices such as the Kindle. People no longer had to go into a book store and actually ask for a book – buying erotica or dirty books in the noughties was still like buying condoms in the last century, a shameful act that required much steeling of nerves. Now, the same purchase could be done seamlessly online. And even better, once purchased, no-one could tell what kind of book you were reading – it could be history, non-fiction or erotica.

But while the anonymous purchasing and reading may have propelled the initial interest, soon actual physical book sales were outstripping or at least equalling online sales. In the summer of 2012, it seemed impossible to fall over anyone on a beach not reading the same book. .

But then there were tales of the book being left behind in hotels. Travelodge published a report that said EL James’ book topped the list of most discarded books, which may not upset the millionaire author, but it does beg the question, will the audience react in the same way in the cinema?

For every one person I met who loved the book, I met one who hated it and was unable to finish reading. Will we see streams of people leaving halfway through, like a poor showing at an indie film festival?

My own personal reaction to the book was frustration, and not the good kind. I am a sex-positive feminist and consumer of both erotica and its more edgy bedfellow porn. I am a devotee of Cindy Gallop and her MakeLoveNotPorn start-up, an admirer of Erika Lust and her women-centric porn and some very quirky stuff in between. I do, however, draw the line at reading Barbara Cartlandesque prose just to get to a post-modern, hardcore sex story stapled thinly within such a storyline.

The writing was inspired, as we know, by Twilight fan fiction and it shows: with every inner goddess, subconscious dance move and references to those jeans hanging off his hips. But my biggest criticism of the book is also my biggest compliment to it – the role of women and its impact on women.

Ana, as a character, I hated with a passion. I hated her for three major things. The first was that she travelled hundreds of miles to interview a businessman, but never did any research before stepping into his office – instead she relied on her friend’s notes to conduct the interview.

There is one question at the end of her friend’s notes which asks if Mr Grey is gay. Ana, this supposedly intelligent woman, cannot read the question in her head without blurting the three words out loud.

This was in the opening chapter, and I think this is where my frustration set in. Why do attractive female protagonists have to be so stupid?

The second was the fact that, as an unlikely virgin at 21, Ana proceeds to have effortless, countless, mind-blowing orgasms with Mr Grey. It would appear she has clitorises all over her body, which makes her a medical wonder.

The final nail in the coffin, for me, was her rejection of presents from her boyfriend. I have to say render unto Caesar and all that. If I am dating a mechanic, then a bunch of garage flowers is lovely; if I am dating a billionaire, then a first edition book is very thoughtful. Or maybe I should have watched Boy Next Door (2015) where JLo is given a first edition Illiad by the eponymous anti-hero. Who is the foolish one there?

So will the Mna of hEireann watch erotica on the big screen now that Fifty Shades is being painted on the big screen? Yes – if only to brush up on their knot-tying techniques. Gentlemen, you have been warned!

Jillian Godsil is a Master’s student in screenwriting in IADT, freelance journalist and author. She has published a quintessentially Irish trilogy of feminist, activist and comic erotica under the pen name of Aoife Brennan and entitled ‘The Cougar Diaries’, Parts I, II & III, which is available on all good electronic devices. She blogs on real world stuff at www.JillianGodsil.com

Sunday Independent

Cougar Diaries – purchase here

On Being a Student – Again

conferring

Confession time: I am a student again. I am studying a Masters in screenwriting in IADT in Dun Laoghaire. It is a demanding course with full time lectures on Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the week you are meant to spend in the library. Of course as a mature student I spent the rest of the time doing the things I have to do; look for business, pitch writing gigs, do writing gigs, look after my kids, mind house, cook the odd dinner, sing with my choir, preside over my alma mater, learn to run and plan world domination. And that is only on Wednesday.

It is a wonderful thing being a student again. It is a long time since I was a student and while it is different as a mature student, it is still wonderful. The biggest surprise is how much I don’t know. That sounds a bit foolish but life after university is often an exercise in using limited knowledge to navigate difficult tasks. The older you get, the better you get at navigation. But when you go back to college, the world sense you may have gained does not always parlay into expert navigation. For example I give you Aristotle’s Poetics. The title enough should tell you all you need to know. I dallied along in the shallows of the lectures letting the warm breeze wash over me, but when it came to actually penning an essay in the subject I almost overturned my little craft to be shipwrecked on the first outcrop of rock. I pulled out my hair, I gnashed my teeth and foamed a little at the mouth. And then, procrastination over, I wrote the damn thing. What an achievement (although I am waiting on the mark to see how much of an achievement it might actually be).

Today is also the deadline for the first draft of our screenplay. Collectively the 14 students on the course have pulled out enough hair for several wigs, gnashed enough teeth to impress even Dennis the Menace (of Beano fame) and foamed like a gossip of madmen. But today we have all handed in an approximation of our story – forged in the fires of catharsis, hammered in the clause of necessity, written in the genre of students and here’s the thing, it’s all sequence driven.

And the title of my screenplay – Mortar Life – say it out loud and you’ll understand the pun.

denis

 

So, first drafts in, we can relax before we start the next big thing but in the interim, I feel obligated (as our American friends would consonant) to share with you some of my recent learning on The Poetics and shall let you (irrespective of nationality and seamanship) be the judge of my navigation.

 

Mimesis according to Aristotle is the representation of world-like artistic activities through the media of poetry, music, visual art, vocal mimesis and dance. In his view mimetic works communicate intelligent images of what is reasonable, of what might prove to be a ‘possible world’.  Aristotle spells this out very clearly when he compares poetry with history. Poetry is much more philosophical and higher thinking than mere history. History, even when expressed in verse, is still history.  The state of the world when expressed in mimetic art is not constant, and indeed can make three things the subject of its mimesis.  Aristotle lists the three subjects as ‘the sorts of things that were or are the case, the sorts of things people say and think to be the case, or the sorts of things that should be the case’ [1]

Using these lists, and oddly and more recently reflective of Rumsfeld’s famous ‘known unknowns’[2] statement on Iraq in 2002, it is possible to see how Aristotle views the relationship between the world within the work and the world of the artist or audience as variable and potentially complex, with the range spanning ‘a spectrum that runs from the true to the fictional, from the close reflection of known reality to the representation of the purely imaginary.

 So there you have it!

[1] – Poet 24.1460b10-11 Since Aristotle says the poet or painter must depict one of these three things ‘at any one time’ he allows for combinations of shifts between the three within individual works.

[2] Donald Rumsfeld, Washington, 2002

 

NEW YEAR NEW ME

I am currently studying a masters in screenwriting in IADT which has some savage deadlines including completing the first draft of our screenplay in less than ten days. Coupled with a rather arduous essay on Aristotle’s Poetics, I have been a bit remiss on my blog (but I am threatening to post my essay once I get it back from the examiners – just to prove how HARD it was to address that subject!)

So apologies for the lack of content and I shall be writing here again very, very soon.

In the interim, I am delighted to say I am one of the contributors for Barnardos’ Charitable and Artistic Series of Presentations called UnderMyBed.ie which will run from March 12 to March 14 and I hope you all put these dates in your diary. If last year’s event was anything to go by it should be a wonderful celebration. Here is a video from last year made by Hello Deer Films. CLICK HERE to view

Talk to you soon

Jillian :-)

 

 

Messines – Happy Christmas Everyone!

 

Don Mullan, author, humanitarian and Christmas Truce ambassador, stood in front of two graves in Messines, Belgium. On the left was Private T Delaney of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who died on Christmas Eve 1914 and on the right, was Private M Murphy of the same division who died on December 30th.  It was a charged and emotional moment as he spoke of the 1914 Christmas Truce. That first Christmas in the war that was to end all wars and had already broken another promise of being over by Christmas. The gap in the dates on the two gravestones indicated that the truce, or at least the death toll, had temporarily stretched for five days. In a war that killed 13,000 men a day, this was a significant easement. Mullan said if the dead solders could talk, they would exhort the living to live, live, live. We, the Waterford Omagh Peace Choir, sang Red is the Rose with difficulty. Everyone was obviously and visibly upset, especially the very youngest members, and we struggled through the verses. This moment had been four years in the planning and the choir carried its emotion in the song.

 

The 1914 Christmas Truce is well documented at this stage. It is said a young German tenor sang Silent Night or Stille Nacht, prompting the Allies soliders to sing carols in return. Tentatively, solders from each side emerged from the trenches and exchanged cigarettes and brandy. They showed the ‘enemy’ pictures of their loved ones. They played a game of football with the Germans winning 3-2. It is one of the more extraordinary and poignant stories to emerge from the senseless slaughter of millions, 18million to be more accurate, before the carnage finished.

 

It had been intended that Jeffrey Donaldson and Martin McGuiness would accompany the choir but the talks breaking down in Stormont had put paid to that plan. Instead, Brenda Hale, MLA, joined the 40-strong choir on our trip. Her story moved us deeply. Her husband had been an officer in the British Army, but had been killed fighting in Afghanistan five years ago. Her profound dignity and sorrow touched us on a very personal level. She spoke movingly of the sacrifice her family had paid for the price of democracy. In Brenda we could see the human cost to war, any war.

 

The choir itself had been founded out of war and the Omagh bombing in 1998 when Phil Brennan, musician and writer based in Waterford, reached across the divide to use music to heal. Over the years the choir had grown to encompass singers from Tullow, Wicklow, Gorey, and even Clare when renowned tenor Jerry Lynch brought his haunting version of A Silent Night to the mix.  The choir had been singing this concert for the past four years and finally had arrived in Messines to give the ultimate Christmas Truce concert.

 

Messines is the smallest city in Belgium and suffered horrendously during World War 1. The entire city was raised to the ground, with only the crypt of St Niklaas church remaining. During the war, the crypt was used as a medical space and a young Bavarian officer was treated for gas inhalation there. He felt it was dishonourable to greet the enemy that Christmas day. His name? Adolf Hitler. The choir visited the crypt and its cold felt even more oppressive with this story. We sang Silent Night in the chill air as if to stem the horror of the memory.

 

Messines is significant for Ireland as two Irish Divisions fought side by side in the battle of Messines Ridge in 1917. Catholic and Protestant from the 36 Ulster Division and the 16 Irish Division fought together and suffered terrible losses. Indeed, three old boys from my Dublin school, The High School, perished on that very battle field: Corporal William Francis, Captain George Porter and Captain Charles Alexander. There are links everywhere that cannot be severed or ignored. In 1998, ironically the same year as the Omagh Bombing, The Island of Ireland Peace Park was unveiled. The park was built by young people from Ireland to commemorate the Irish soldiers, north and south, who perished during World War I.  We visited this beautiful and simple park with its stunning round tower – the slit windows that only light the interior on the date of the Armistice – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. There we formally changed the name of our choir from Waterford Omagh Peace Choir to the Island of Ireland Peace Choir in the presence of the Mayor of Messines.

 

Afterwards we travelled to St Matthew’s church to give our concert. We sang from our hearts, the memory of the graves of the solders still in our thoughts and none more so that the tragically engraved stones for unknown solders bearing the inscription – A Soldier of the Great War – known onto God.

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OMG look what the cat did to the Christmas Tree

 

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  • OK – Let me confess about the twelve days of my Christmas tree:
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  • Jillian Godsil 1. My youngest normally does our christmas decorations but she is away until Christmas eve
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  • Jillian Godsil 2. I didn’t buy a real tree because a good friend is allergic to the sap
    5 hrs · Like · 1
  • Jillian Godsil 3. I couldn’t find the old one for ages and finally I did but I appear to have lost the middle piece for I am sure it was taller than that before
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  • Jillian Godsil 4. The two pieces I did find were very squashed and despite pulling and prodding I was not able to much improve their appearance
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  • Jillian Godsil 5. I was also unable to locate the stand
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  • Jillian Godsil 6. A stable boot (a work boot), surrounding by bundles of election pamphlets makes a passable stand
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  • Jillian Godsil 7. but it is liable to movement with very little encouragement
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  • Jillian Godsil 8. So the application of lights was problematic – every time I tried to wind a strand around the tree, it fell over
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  • Jillian Godsil 9. I partially covered what branches remained outstanding with the lights with some effort
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  • Jillian Godsil 10. I then tried to hang ornaments but the wobbliness of the tree meant that I had to hang them more for balance than ornament
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  • Jillian Godsil 11. this I managed and turned on the lights to deliver the wonderful view that you can see
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  • Jillian Godsil 12. And then I blamed the cat!!!!

Messines – The 1914 Christmas Truce

We traveled to Messines for an emotional celebration of the 1914 Christmas Truce. The Waterford-Omagh Peace officially changed its name to the Island of Ireland Peace Choir

Watch the news here 

Here we are singing in Iveagh House with President Emeritus Mary McAleese and in the Independent the next day

RTE  RTE video 

And we were also featured on Nationwide on December 19, 2014

 

And we went a bit viral along the way ….. including marking it into the UK Telegraph 

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Mixing your genres – Feminist, Activist, Comic ….Erotica!

How do you make the medicine go down? With a spoon full of sugar of course.

Watch me explain on video here

 

Last year when I found myself speaking into a vacuum about debt and austerity in Ireland, I decided to use the one weapon at my disposal, the one thing the banks could not take from me – namely my pen – and I wrote a trilogy that has at its core the harsh human cost of our economic tragedy. And I say tragedy because most of what has happened to Ireland was so unnecessary. I can guarantee that in all the reviews of 50shades there is not one mention of the collapse of the American banking system. Whereas in the reviews of my humble trilogy there are loads of references to the social and economic landscape that is Ireland today.

So, if you fancy the idea of reading about Ireland in recession, spiced up with some very naughty bits (for people cannot live by recession alone) then I think it would be a very good thing to buy and read my books. Telling the truth through fiction (and naughty bits) seems like an honourable thing to do. And reading about Ireland in Austerity is also an honourable pastime.

Here is me talking at the Women’s Inspired Network in Wexford to explain how I came to mix my genres.

The Cougar Diaries – thinking women’s erotica – Also read by men (and students of modern Irish history)

The Cougar Diaries, Part One (UK) (US)

The Cougar Diaries, Part Two (UK) (US)

The Cougar Diaries, Part Three (UK) (US)

and if you prefer hard copies – why not visit Lulu.com

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I used to be an Asshole – Lessons in Genteel Poverty (with apologies to my mother for the headline)

Genteel Poverty

I met a new friend last year. He once had a good job in the private sector but fell into trouble, lost his job and put his home in jeopardy. His new found interest in debt propelled him into a filmic project to talk about the impact of financial ruin on individuals. He asked me, as the then poster girl for debt, to talk about my experiences. And he said something that had a huge impact on me. His words went as follows – I used to be an asshole but I’m okay now. I didn’t have to ask him to explain. As someone who had crossed over to the other side of the debt fence, I knew exactly what he meant. Applying the pejorative noun to myself, it wasn’t that I had literally been such an insensitive person, but I little knew the privations of everyday poverty while still gainfully employed. And that is the kind of privation that wears you down. It’s not the big things, although God knows that can be tough too, but the financial destitution that leaves you with no money in your wallet at the end of the week, or even worse, nearer the start, is the kind of soul destroying existence that breaks you down. And it is not until you cross that line that you can even begin to comprehend the fragility of your soul. An extra egg for your tea may not have added a gloss to your soul, but staring at the empty cup can pare it away, sliver by tiny sliver.

To be honest, I am good without possessions. I have to be since I have either lost them, was dispossessed of them or in happier moments, managed to flog them. I am, however, in possession of a very fine collection of shoes, all costing in the range of €10, in the size of 8 and with tottering high heels. I may never wear the half of them as they gather dust on my book shelves (where else would rogue shoes retire to) but they served a purpose over the recent years as my buying powers diminished to the point of necessity. Shoes are never a necessity, not matter what the infamous Mrs Marcos may have argued. My dust laden bargains sing to me still. It was my own swan song of commercialism.

So having established my impecunious state, let me try and tell you what it feels like to be the part of the new class, the genteel poor. This is where the coping classes meet the severely downtrodden and out-of-all-luck classes.  It is akin to ironing the front of your shirt, but leaving the remaining, and unseen cloth, creased. I thought it was only a passing phase, one to be shaken off with a new job offer and reinstatement of financial comfort. They say it is better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all, but I might argue it is easier never to have to have loved. It’s the losing that is the trouble, the chink too wide that fosters the loss of self.

The first I knew of my new genteel state was the change in grocery shopping. Not only was the weekly filled-to-the-brim basket a distant memory, my choice of shops and what I bought altered fundamentally. Once, at the start of my slide into genteel poverty, I arrived at a till with insufficient cash to pay for my food. I had to leave the trolley, grunting ‘I’d be back’ in a poor Arnie imitation. I was, once I recovered my rainy-day notes hidden down the back of the sofa, but not without embarrassing my teenage daughter to the point of mortification. I didn’t like to tell her, but it was to get worse. I began shopping in the different discount stores to create a full shop. I stopped buying anything in bulk, including obvious items such as toilet rolls. I literally didn’t have the money to purchase more than a week’s supply. So any possible bargains that I might have availed of, as a broke person, were beyond my means. The irony was not lost on me. They say that people waste as much as a quarter of the food they buy, having to dump it uneaten. I would argue that mostly happens in households where food is bought in bulk. When you buy vegetables for the week, they are unlikely to be chucked out. Our portion size goes down too. When I purchase those popular ‘three for a tenner’ deals in one of our homegrown multiples and where the fish portions are calculated on the basis of leprechaun appetites, we manage to divide the two tiny fillets between three. It can be very tasty but I did not expect nouveau cuisine to be so popular in Ireland in 2014.

Then there is the discount shelf in the more expensive multiples.  There is a technique to purchasing off the discount shelf as the actual shelf is tiny – a bare two feet wide and two unrelated shoppers would find it difficult to stand shoulder to shoulder and view the items. A gradual crawl around the aisle is first needed to make sure no one else is looking at the food on offer. If someone is already there, then a detour to another aisle is necessary until you can get in line. Once there, you can view the very mixed range of food stuffs – from meat to fish to funny cast-offs – which are labelled with their mark down.

On one occasion, my daughters and I saw steak on the shelf but it was not marked down. We hesitated. Then I decided to be a grownup about the situation. I grabbed the package and marched over to the butcher’s counter. A sign said that Mike was on duty, but he wasn’t. It was Tony or something similar. He looked at me and then at the steak before informing me that particular steak didn’t get marked down until 4pm – which was about forty minutes from that time. I wanted to remonstrate with him about responsible and accurate price marking and what would have happened had I tried to pay for it before 4pm. Even as I felt the familiar indignation wind up in my brain about such poor labelling, I deflated it immediately. It would have been hard to take the high moral ground when looking for discounted foods. I thanked him, returned the meat to the shelf and left without buying it. Outside in the car, I started to cry but my girls just laughed, not unkindly, at me. They loved getting a bargain, they said. I loved getting a bargain, they reminded me. But all I could think was while I loved getting a bargain, I hated being reliant on one.

The necessity continues with that other staple of country life, the car. I am now the proud possessor of a thirteen year old Opel Corsa which is very cheap to run. And the annual car tax is only €180 – so how come I could only afford to tax it for six months? It is the same with my petrol consumption. Do you realise that the optimum speed to run a car of that age and make is at 40 mph? Well, if you are ever stuck behind me on a country road or overtake me on the motorway, you’ll know the reason why.

Welcome to the brave new world!

Jillian Godsil

This article first ran in the Sunday Independent on Sunday 30 November, 2014