Will New SEC Regulation Shut Down ICOs? Munchee Forced To Abort ICO

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With $2billion raised in ICOs so far this year, it is not surprising that regulatory bodies are not only looking hard at the products and companies, but they are now starting to step in and test the veracity and legality of crypto fundraising.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently formed a Cyber Unit to fulfil this task. Last month it filed fraud charges against PlexCoin and it also forced Munchee, a distributed restaurant review ecosystem on the blockchain, to abort its ICO.

Earlier in the month, as a result of the SEC Cyber Unit’s warning to Munchee, the ICO was cancelled. It had only run for two days and had attracted 40 investors. On the Twitter account plans were been made to return funds as soon as possible as of November 2.

Munchee had aimed to raise $15million to provide development, grow the management team and market the product.

Now, the sale is stopped, investors refunded and despite tweets from November 2 saying the company hoped to relaunch the ICO, it has gone quiet; unless you count the filing of the ‘cease-and-desist’ papers by the SEC against Munchee yesterday.

This action tallies with a statement made by SEC boss on Monday where Jay Clayton issued a warning to investors to beware of putting their money into cryptocurrencies, saying trading and public offerings in crypto tokens may be a violation of federal securities law.

The warning and now the ‘cease-and-desist’ order would appear to leave no room for any ‘payment’ or ‘utility’ tokens at all in the US.

So how did Muchee fall foul of the SEC?

In a ten page legal document the SEC argued that the MUN tokens were securities as defined by Section2(a)(1) of the Securities Act of 1933 because they were investment contracts.

The document went on further to elaborate that an investment contract is an investment of money in a common enterprise with a reasonable expectation of profits to be derived from the entrepreneurial or managerial efforts of others.

Much of the evidence was taken from Munchee’s own white paper. The distributed ecosystem allowing restaurant reviews was not under fire, but the token was. Munchee argued that the MUN token, issued as part of the ICO, would rise in value due in part of the work undertaken by the team at Munchee as well as by trading on secondary markets.

Munchee’s arguments to persuade investors to purchase MUN tokens were also directly under fire from the 1933 Securities Act. Across its collateral, Munchee said it would run its business so that MUN Tokens would rise in value.

The Legal papers stated the obvious – that purchasers would reasonably view the MUN token offering as an opportunity to profit if the Muchee project was successful.

Munchee had been bullish in the run up to its ICO. On October 30th in a blog it listed seven reasons why someone should invest with reason number four talking about more users, more value and also burning of excess tokens to maintain value.

An earlier podcast with one of the founders spoke about increasing numbers of reviewers and restaurants coming on board which would raise the token value.

And on Facebook at the same time, a slightly overcooked youtube video projected 199% gains on MUN tokens, and speculated that a $1000 investment in MUN could create a $94,000 return.

The legal document even honed in on the target audience for Munchee’s ICO. It pointed out that Munchee and its agents promoted the MUN token offering in forums aimed at people interested in Bitcoin and other digital agents rather than long term users and partners in the food review ecosystem.

It would seem Munchee was being penalised for adopting strategies of the majority of successful ICOs before – and in future.

However, Munchee’s failure was to offer a utility token which the SEC viewed instead as a security token without registering with the SEC or obtaining an exemption from registration.

As the respondent (Munchee) stopped the sale immediately after the SEC warning there were no civil penalties but the company is now ordered to cease and desist from committing or causing any future violations of the Securities Act.

It looks as though there will not be a resuming of the Munchee ICO any time soon.

 

The Crypto Valley Of Zug, Why Switzerland Is The Place To Be For Bitcoin, Ethereum And Blockchain Initiatives

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Coming to a city near you…

At first glance it might seem an unusual choice for the hottest tech location in Europe, if not EMEA, but Zug, named for its fishing rights is both a town and canton in Switzerland and home to a little under 30,000 residents. It is an affluent area, a low tax region and a base for several multinational companies. In 2001, it first sparked to international recognition when a disgruntled gunman shot 15 people, including himself, in the Zug Cantonal Parliament in what became known as the Zug Massacre.

This year, Zug was very much back in the news for quite different reasons. In January 2017 a not for profit organisation was formed: the Crypto Valley Association (CVA) headquartered in Zug and formed for the express purpose of attracting and supporting blockchain companies and organisations to Switzerland. Prior to the formal establishment of CVA, the Crypto Valley in Zug had been the brain child of Johann Grevers who based his cryptofinance startup Monetas in Zug in 2013. He outlined all sorts of positive reasons why Switzerland was attractive for blockchain companies and soon attracted broad support from numerous individuals, startups, corporates, service providers, industry associations, educational institutions, governments and regulators.

Grever’s own particular career has been recently mired by his own success. Tezos, which aimed to build a new digital commonwealth, used Grever’s ICO foundation company through which to raise money. They were successful, very successful with $232 million raised (and now worth twice that with inflation), but Grevers and the founders of Tezos are locked in a bitter infight. Sometimes the price of success is too high.

Zug itself carried on as a leading light for crypto companies. Ethereum incorporated in Zug in 2014 and the first bitcoin ATMs were installed. In 2015, Shapeshift located in Zug and in the same year the Swiss Federal council issued a report that bitcoins were regarded as a virtual currency and no further regulations were required.

The following year the Zug tax authority issued guidelines for the accounting and tax treatment of bitcoin and the city of Zug became the first government in the world to officially accept bitcoin payments.

Oliver Bussman, as President of the CVA, is overseeing a membership which is growing at an exponential rate. Since its foundation in January membership has grown to in excess of 500 members and that figure is growing at 30 new members per month. Membership fees are denominated in Swiss Francs (CHF) costing 100 CHF for an individual member and CHF 300 for a corporate.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Bussmann explained that unlike other ecosystems, such as Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs can expect to find every possible resource necessary for a successful token launch within a 30-mile radius of Crypto Valley.

“We have advisors helping with value proposition and token economy, seasoned legal experts, tax experts, accounting experts, people specialized in global marketing and global communications PR, secure ICO launch platforms, independent audit firms, smart contract audits, KYC, AML utilities and a community of investors looking to support the product.”

Switzerland has a lot of historic features which lends itself to the decentralised view of the world. Its own political system is based on a citizen-controlled ethos and boasts century’s old culture of individual rights. Coupled with Swiss neutrality, business-friendly environment and privacy-friendly financial and legal infrastructures, it is very successfully marketing itself as a hub for crypto friendly companies.

Last month, the CVA announced its first strategic partner in KPMG Switzerland. KPMG will be an active member and chair two working groups; one on Tax, Accounting and Structuring and the other on Cyber Security. But it is not just corporations that want in; a local hotel and restaurant, the Swiss Chalet Merlischachen, is now accepting bitcoin and ethereum as payment for its food and hospitality. It claims to be the first hospitality company in Zug to accept alt currency.

Zug and the Crypto Valley would seem a powerful advocate for all things blockchain. Their example is catching. Just a week ago, Ireland stepped up to the plate and announced its own crypto centre. Called Crypto Coast and headed up by blockchain veteran Reuben Godfrey, the Irish hub is seeking to do the same as Crypto Valley. However, where Switzerland and Zug may offer traditional financial expertise, Ireland’s Crypto Coast has based its foundation on a wealth of blockchain professionals and positive government support.

In conclusion, it’s not really a question of the Crypto Valley being in competition with the Crypto Coast and more a question of how soon the rest of the world will follow suit

What do dogs, shoe shiners, taxi drivers and now gang members have in common?

It used to be the dogs in the street. Then it was the shoe shiners. Joe Kennedy famously said that when his shoe shiner gave him stock market tips, then it was time to quit the market. After that it was taxi drivers with the Troika taken to task when Irish journalist Vincent Browne questioned just what Klaus Masuch’s taxi driver understood.

What the classic video here of the banker, Vincent Browne and the taxi driver

Now the traditional media are conflating Bitcoin with money laundering and the darknet. It’s an easy jump to make. Pick something you don’t understand, demonise it and then blame it for all sorts of seedy stuff – without any evidence.

Today it happened in the Irish Times, Ireland’s paper of record. A major drug sting in Amsterdam resulted in eight arrests, three of which are Irish nationals and known to the local Irish police as gang members. The paper detailed the swag found which included Bitcoin Mining equipment. The article ran the mining equipment as the main headline and then went on to say that Bitcoin could be used for money laundering. No mention of the cash and its use in money laundering.

So, if gangland members are mining Bitcoin, then maybe it is time to quit the markets – lol

Workplace Bullying – what can you do?

 

 

 

 

Awareness of workplace bullying is much higher although proving it legally is still a very tough process. According to the Supreme Court the definition of bullying is repeated behaviour that ‘must be outrageous, unacceptable, and exceeding all bounds tolerated by decent society.’ Often employees may endure treatment that is annoying, upsetting and perceived to be personal but according to Justice Peter Charlton the test for bullying must of necessity be set very high.

So while the legal route may be fraught with difficulty, research points to the ongoing negative impacts of bullying in the workplace. The ERSI report on ‘Bullying in the Workplace’ from 2007 highlighted some very interesting statistics including that women were more likely to suffer bullying than their male counterparts, in fact the risk was almost double with 10.7% of women more at risk than 5.8% of men.

60% of the 3,500 respondents interviewed considered quitting their jobs as a result, while 15% actually did leave. Not surprisingly 20% said they had taken sick leave directly as a result of the bullying, with a further 48% saying the bullying had a detrimental impact on the lives outside of work.

Where bullying does exist – in the definition of repeated, unacceptable behaviour – the negative impact on the individual can be severe. The difficulty can be compounded as bullying by its nature tends to be directed at an individual rather than a group. This can lead fellow workers to being conflicted in their support of the individual or in the criticism of the bully, especially as the bully is normally in a position of power.

Other workers may sympathise with the victim but may not want to get involved, would prefer to keep their head down or just do not want to be on the receiving end of the same treatment.

I recently had occasion to visit my GP relating to work related stress and sickness. He diagnosed my condition immediately and was able to provide me with a certificate stating my illness due to stress. I pointed out that I was still able to work but was not well as the result of what I personally termed workplace bullying. My GP agreed with my determination but gave me very good advice.

He first of all advised me to collect my medals as he termed it. Reach out to fellow workers and colleagues with whom I had a good relationship and secure their recommendations formally or informally. Then his next piece of advice was very sound. People, good people, will not fight your battles he told me. They just won’t. And you can’t expect them to, regardless of the rights or wrongs of situation. He let that advice sink in and it resonated with me. Actually, in some ways it reminded me of my divorce. It doesn’t matter about the details people will not get involved and with good reason for the most part. It is the same with workplace relationships.

I then sought advice from a solicitor on this topic. I presented my evidence and she was also in agreement as to the levels of behaviour. As I was not an employee, I could not resort to constructive dismissal. The legal route was to pursue a personal injury claim. Of course, claims through the courts are difficult, expensive and as was pointed out at the start, near on impossible to prove.

I also did not want to argue that I had been damaged – irreparably as to the claim. I was frustrated, I was angry and I wanted to stop the behaviour – not to pursue monies and not to say I was injured. It would have felt like claiming whip lash after a nasty prang in my car. The experience might have been painful but I was not scarred for life. I had learnt lessons but I was not going to be wearing a neck collar for the next six months.

Another visit to a mediation expert presented an alternative way. Louisa Meehan of Woodview HRM was very focused on her advice. ‘Protect yourself,’ was her first and last word on the subject. Harking back to the ERSI survey her advice made good sense. When bad work experiences seep into every life, then it is time to make a decision.

‘Sometimes, if the conflict is pronounced and with a senior executive, my advice is to bail,’ she says. ‘Tackling bullying head-on can be a very lengthy and difficult process, and your energies might be better placed looking for alternative employment.’
Of course not all cases are hopeless. Meehan advocates mediation as a much more effective route than legal and much more cost effective as well. According to the Mediation Institute of Ireland, more than 80% of cases involving mediation go on to be successful concluded.

‘Mediation is all about finding the best possible solution for both parties,’ says Meehan. ‘Its role is not to make the sparring individuals best buddies nor is it to punish one or reward another. It is to look at the working relationship and see where it had broken down. Often, the perceived behaviour of one can be quite different from another perspective. We work with both parties’ world views and then construct a bridge. It can be as simple as that.’

In my own case the cause of discomfort was removed when my services were no longer required. On one hand, I no longer faced the repeated behaviour that I personally viewed as bullying. On the other, I was not able to push through an investigation that would have evaluated the situation and proven one way or another if the bullying was there. As with all these disagreements there is scope for losing as well. However, that truth is denied me now which is almost as galling as the behaviour in the first place. Now where did I put that neck collar…?

William Crozier – fantastic new exhibition in IMMA (Ireland)

Last night I attended the opening night of the exhibition of William Crozier in IMMA, Dublin Ireland.

There was a lecture first with the curator Sean Kinsella – who gave a fascinating account of Crozier’s life and influences from post war, the cold war, Irish and UK landscapes, existentialism, and finally how he painted with ordinary paints – from his local hardware store.

I met a new friend and artist Mary Cooke

and we viewed the images together – and I even got a selfie with Crozier’s selfie

Well worth a visit – website

And here is a short video 

Selfie with Crozier Selfie

We are in danger of sliding into a modern version of history that looks all too familiar

First published in the Irish Independent on 23 December, 2016

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George Santayana, the Spanish philosopher, is credited with the sage observation that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Sound advice, to which I would add a codicil – those who write the history dictate the repetition and in that case, are we actually repeating what happened, or inventing a past to repeat?

I have been boring my friends and anyone who cares to listen for the past five years or so that we are sliding into a new history that looks very much like the old one. I have said it on live radio, in live pubs and at live dinner party conversations. I am like a parrot at this stage.

Now I see it on Facebook, arguably the caretaker of trends, where people quote historic lessons and provide modern parallels. The rise of the Third Reich is no longer a chapter confined to a history book; it is now a series of videos on social media where people are tracing clear and obvious parallels between Hitler’s monster rallies and Donald Trump’s election rallies.

Where the Star of David may have isolated a minority ethnic group, now the hijab or even skin colour marks a huge ethnic community. Within the predominantly Caucasian America and Europe, the “otherness” of Muslims is outed.

It is a strange thing to out an entire community. Can they be outed where they are in the majority? Are the roles reversed? Today I saw a Muslim restaurant in London offering to feed for free any homeless people on Christmas Day. How many non-Muslim restaurants are doing the same? But that is a rational question and we are dealing with a rise of behaviour and attitudes that seems to directly mirror the rise of the Third Reich, and by its very nature is not based in logic or common sense, but in fear and desperation.

But how we read our history is a twin-headed beast, and not to be taken at face value.

Among the many videos I have watched on Trump, I saw a particularly insightful one by a fictitious news reporter, Jonathan Pie. Created by the comedian and actor Tom Walker, his character is a brash, fast-talking reporter who does all his piercing comedy parody just before going live – talking to an invisible producer about how he feels before he reports.

There are several Trump videos, but the most searing one was produced the week of Trump’s victory. Pie is positively foaming at the mouth when he rants at his producer. Of course Trump won, he says. Trump won because the liberals let us down. Pie rants that the right wing did its thing while the left looked smugly on. Anyone not expressing a liberal viewpoint was labelled in terms far more damning than any clumsy right-wing demagogue might muster.

“Build a wall”, “make America great”, “give America jobs” all played a straight game, while the liberal left threw labels like confetti. And that is never the way to win the game. With no debate, there is no understanding. With no understanding, there is no persuasion, and, as a consequence, no victory.

Pie called it right. We, the liberals, forgot to make good arguments and relied on lazy labels.

I was never one to defend Katie Hopkins, but she also nailed it when she appeared on the ‘Late Late Show’. She had a series of Post-its with labels already transcribed. At the time, I was aghast at her comments, but replayed again in my head with the benefit of Pie’s observations, I see it differently.

I also felt uncomfortable when a student spoke up in the audience. Also a Trump supporter, he felt unable to celebrate while watching the count in college for fear of derision by his liberal friends. Shutting down debate leaves it to fester underground, and we have a new army of Trump supporters going loud and proud. And all we have is labels to throw at them.

Is several weeks long enough to be called history? Can I look back on the most high-profile election campaign ever and see the trend, this disturbing trend?

And will history be rewritten this time? One must remember that history is written by the victors. Post-World War I, Germany was blamed for the war and reparations demanded. Revisionists have clearly turned that notion on its head, but not in time to prevent the rise of the Third Reich.

And closer to home, we see constant revisionism in this State. Tina Noonan wrote a play called ‘The Prodger’. It tells the story of her uncle returning from World War I and how he fought demons on all sides. At a showing in Dalkey, south Dublin, Ronan McGreevy, author and World War I historian, interviewed her after the performance. He pointed out that some 400,000 Irish men fought in the first war, that it was still “the” army in the first war, that it had not become the “British” army until De Valera got his hands on the history books and airbrushed out an entire generation.

Everyone on this island would have known someone in the army. But not everyone would have known someone once it became the British army. This is how history is rewritten with the connivance of victors and the acceptance of the populace. ‘The Prodger’ was performed last month in Magilligan Prison in Derry. A long-term inmate said it was not a play about war, but about love between men serving together. Or serving time together.

Before the next history gets written, maybe we need to understand it first and debate it without labels. Or maybe we should just write about love instead.trump

Will the Big Boys please stand up!

‘Power of one’ can make a difference, so think what big business could do on climate change

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Thomas Clare

First published in the Irish Independent 19/10/2016

I read a beautiful piece of writing yesterday. It was by the American author Clarissa Pinkola Estés. She wrote a celebrated and exotically titled book called ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves’. I bought it in Australia many years ago but read only the opening chapter. When I lost my house I gave that book away. It is a shame because I think I might now based on the piece I read yesterday.

Estés wrote a short essay called ‘We Were Made for These Times’. Contrary to our fears, she argues we were made for today and triangulated a beautiful conceit in which we were meant to let our souls shine, that others would join in and like an army of glow worms we would spread out as a protective blanket over the worn old world. Each glow worm would attract and light the next worm in an exploding sea of beauty and enlightenment.

In her essay, she argued we could become a flotilla that grew one by one. “Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do,” she writes. And she encourages us to hold fast in a powerful statement: “When a great ship is in harbour and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.”

The power of one multiplied into many is the glory cry of our lost generation. The Dalai Lama is supposed to have said that size is not important. He compared the impact of a single tiny mosquito when trapped with a human being inside the protective mosquito net. He challenged us to believe that we could be enough, be powerful enough and make that change.

And I do believe. I do believe in the power of one. I believe in the power of the underdog. I believe in the power of passion over cynicism, in the power of right over wrong, in the power of believing I too can make a difference. However, and this is a big however, just because I believe I can make a difference in my tiny world, it does not excuse the powerful from making a difference in theirs. In fact, I call upon the powerful to do much, much more than is currently being done.

This is where Norman Crowley enters the stage. A serial entrepreneur with a flotilla of extremely successful businesses of his own in his wake, he has stepped into the climate change arena. Founder of Crowley Carbon, this West Cork businessman has created a technology company that saves large companies hundreds of thousands in wasted energy. In fact, such is his determination to strong-arm ‘Captains of Industry’ to turn off the fossil fuel tap, he promises to pay them if he does not save them money.

It’s a no-brainer, so it would seem. Engage with Crowley Carbon and save up to 50pc off spiralling energy costs. And if that doesn’t happen, then Crowley Carbon will pay you the missed savings. Except it’s not happening. Many, if not most, multinationals are stuck on small, single-digit reductions in energy usage. They puff themselves up on their miniscule saving and present it proudly like a school child in show and tell.

Norman travels the world talking about the issues. He has put his own money where his mouth is. Hell, he has even founded a not-for-profit foundation opening in Powerscourt in early 2017. Called Cool Planet Experience, it is Ireland’s first interactive climate change exhibition. He tells the ‘Captains of Industry’ that 97pc of all scientists believe in global warming (sorry, Danny Healy-Rae); that global temperatures are increasing year on year; that half of the global ocean heat increase since records began has taken place since 1997; that tropical diseases are on the move; that climate has as much to do with refugee displacement – if not more – than war; and it is predicted the earth will be incompatible with organised human society by 2050.

He blames lizard brains. What else can make sense? We all have them. It reduces our concerns to the immediate, the necessary, to the end of the week. You think that those horrifying statistics might wake up the consciences of big business and big government capable of doing big things. But no, those pesky lizard brains mean the current outbids the future. It is a losing bet and the house always wins. We have quotas imposed from every angle to reverse our climate change. World bodies, political agencies and global coalitions impose regulations on countries, institutions and businesses. We have quotas that are timid in their ambitions. Improvements and reductions are sought in low, single- digit steps.

And so hearing global executives telling big-swinging-mickey stories about their 2pc achievements is risible. Even Donald Trump would not boast about a two-inch appendage. It is simply not enough.

It is time for the ‘Big People’ to stand up and make a difference.

Norman Crowley was the keynote speaker at the 2016 Energy Symposium held in Cong, Co Mayo, on October 14

Irish Independentsunrise

I have embraced my inner clutter goddess after finding a home

First published in the Irish Independent 09/10/2016

 

I am now the proud possessor of a hammer. A proper hammer, and I have used it a goodly number of times. About 20 times so far. To hang pictures. On the walls of the house where I rent.

A little over a month ago, I did not have walls to rent. I had exited my old house, rented for the past 10 years, where I had lived with my two daughters and our animals.

I had exited our house as the lease had been terminated. There was no trouble, just the owner wanted her house back. I searched Wicklow high and low for alternative rental accommodation but nothing was to hand.

As the months rushed together, I found myself getting more and more frantic. I looked at caravans, thinking I might buy one at the end of the summer. But like time shares, caravans should never be bought in warm months. Fortunately, the ones I viewed were so shabby as to be unattractive even in the heat, which was one positive consequence of a modest budget.

I planted my daughters in a cottage, found at the eleventh hour. A friend offered to rent me a bedroom and at the grand old age of 51, I went couch surfing. I had tried to embrace the new me, the new rental-continental me, and now the trendy couch-surfing me. But I was failing miserably.

I went each day to Lawless Hotel in Aughrim and plugged myself into the net. I pestered those patient staff with gentle requests to reset the modem when the internet went down. I drank endless cups of tea and sometimes, when budget allowed, bought lunch as well. I hid myself in a corner and did my best to ignore the busy rural trade plied in front of me.

I resigned myself to several months of stealing internet while I tried to set up my business again. It stuck me forcibly that having no fixed abode made it very hard to be upbeat and win business. I chatted on the phone and joked about my incipient alcoholism should I continue to have to work out of bars with internet. It was tough going.

But back to the hammer. In the middle of all this angst, I got a message from a friend. He had heard about my latest predicament (and there have been quite a few) and got in touch to say he had a cottage to rent. I saw the cottage the next day and moved in the following weekend.

Since that time, I have thrown all notions of minimalism out the window. I have rejected the clean interior designs beloved by the very cool. Instead, I have embraced my inner clutter goddess and have been nesting with an enthusiasm that is religious in its zealotry.

I realise that I had not bought one thing for the house I rented for the previous 10 years. After losing my original home to the banks, I had been coasting. I lived in the house but it was not a home, not in the material sense. I thought I was ‘over’ possessions. I had them all taken from me, or I had sold them or I had lost them – and I no longer cared.

Now, in my little unexpected dreamboat of a house I can only see my possessions, which are growing daily. I have raided all the charity shops in a 50-mile radius. I buy things, small things, clutter, knick- knacks, bric-a-brac, and bring them home to my little house. I place them on small tables, on window sills, and I hang pictures on the walls. With my little hammer.

I have never been so given over to materialism. It matters not one whit that my budget is modest and my target shops are charitable ones. Last week, I was trying on a skirt in a Saint Vincent de Paul shop in Tinahely. In the make-shift dressing room, I spotted a tangle of coloured glass. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a pendant lamp shade.

It was intended for use in the shop but the kind attendant sold it to me for a fiver. I brought it home and hung it in my bedroom. And then I turned on the light. The bling is terrific. The ceiling and walls of my bedroom are littered with shards of coloured light.

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I, who once had crystal chandeliers, am riveted by my coloured glass. I rush guests up to my bedroom and turn on the display. I am prouder than a circus master of my precious find.

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I am the same for every stick of furniture in the house, every trinket I purchase and every plant I buy. I walk around my home and talk to the contents. I thank them for their use or their beauty and sometimes both. It is like a veneer of pixie dust is covering the entire house. I never knew that I had missed feeling at home so much and having now arrived at home, I am so happy.

Irish Independent

Festival Rules

electric image

I can write this now. I had to wait until I could confirm my daughter had escaped from Electric Picnic alive with all her limbs intact and preferably with her tent still in tow. It is a good tent and I did not want to see it discarded with the other tents. Although I know that discarded tents and wellies can be collected for refugees which is a fabulous use for them. On this occasion and with this tent though I wanted to see returned home.

My daughter is a good daughter too and I wanted her safe home too. I bumped into many parents over the weekend whose daughters were also at the picnic. We shared stories and worries. I hope they all came home safe too.

Going to the picnic was a last minute decision for my daughter. A lone ticket attached to some friends was for sale and she jumped at the chance. I jumped too but with worry – and I am the most laid back mum on the planet. I do benign neglect with a passion but on this occasion I began to double and triple think.

I’m the same as Jonathan Healy of Newstalk fame. He announced several times on air last week that he had never done a music festival. I have to confess to being of the same breed – although it is not without trying hard to break my duck.

And so I had no real idea of what my daughter would witness on her three day sojourn.

She pulled the tent from the attic and said that would do her. But when I picked her up she had not actually opened the tent to see if it still worked and had all its pieces. I made her promise that if it was a failure she was to call me and I would collect her.

The other problem with the tent was the sheer size of it. And the weight. Then the sleeping bag took up most of the remainder of her space. She put the tent bag on her back and balanced another bag on front but she could not walk far with such a load.

She was to meet her friends on George’s Quay to catch a bus to the Picnic. But the day before she only had a vague meet up plan. I stood over her while she texted firm details.

She told me that the Happy Pear were going to be there and as a big fan of the brothers she planned on eating exclusively with them. I began to worry about food. What if the queues were too big, what if she couldn’t find the stall, what if she ran out of money?

Eat Chips I advised her. Chips are good, chips are soakage, chips are cheap. At a music festival eat lots of chips.

Then I started worrying about finding her tent in the dark, and more importantly finding her tent in the dark with drink taken. My next rule was to only drink near her tent. She was not to get tipsy unless she was in stumbling distance of her tent.

Then I started worrying about finding the toilet in the middle of the night. And then finding her tent on the way back. While driving her up to Dublin to join her friends I stopped at various garages and then at the Cornelscourt shopping centre looking for torches. I could not find a single torch between Aughrim and Blackrock.

Finally in Dunnes Stores I found some decorative Halloween-themed, battery-operated tea lights. The batteries were even included and I returned to the car and my daughter triumphantly clutching the set of four lights. I triumphantly presented the orange collection as proud as if I had won a medal.

As I said goodbye I asked her to text me morning and night to say she was still alive.

It turns out I need not have worried. The Happy Pear was not at the Picnic but there were plenty of other eateries and yes my daughter ate chips.

She did not bring enough drink she said and it was too expensive to buy drink there. However, I secretly smiled at this comment. Less is definitely more at a festival in my parental viewpoint.

The tents were well laid out. It was easy to find it even in the dark. Her own tent went up and was only a problem when the friend sharing the tent left the flap open in the rain. Even a good tent will let in rain if open.

She texted me the first night at 12 midnight as she went to bed. Her neighbours were not so good and kept her awake until 630am. The next night she got her festival legs and didn’t hit the sack until 430am.

And the little tea lights proved to be of some use in the tent itself. Their combined wattage was not enough to light the way to anywhere but they provided a little glow in the dark – enough to make the tent seem cosy when she finally went to bed.

So, she survived. The tent came home with her. The craic was mighty. She met other friends. Her legs are killing her with all the walking and generally standing around. She will probably sleep for two days straight.

And I am going next year!

I call it ‘couchsurfing’, but really I’m homeless

In the Irish Times Weekend Magazine August 6, 2016 

Facing homelessness for the second time, Jillian Godsil explores how this social issue has become a middle-class problem

 

irish times

 

 

 

 

 

I’m trying to think of a word to sum up how I feel. I think there must be one out there but I can’t put my finger on it. I know what it feels like, a funny ache that lives mostly in the pit of my belly but sometimes it crawls up to lodge in the back of my throat.

I am homeless, for the second time in my adult life, and – though each person’s situation is unique and many are worse than mine – I am part of the great sickening statistic that haunts this land.

The first time I became homeless, the banks repossessed my fine home and sold it for a pittance. There were so many wrongs I hardly know where to start.

But I was stoic then. Gracious almost. Leavetaking suited me, liberated me or so I told myself. I embraced the continental way of living. Let us rent instead. I threw the words out carelessly as if they cost me nothing. I was a new woman to whom possessions were as naught. It is easy to be flippant about possessions when none are left.

I swaggered around as if being divested of things was easy. But this was a façade, and I was dreadfully hurt by the absence of things – notably my security. And more notably still, my children’s security.

Here you may want to stop me, to rail against me and deliver a lecture. Like a pregnant woman who gathers advice thick and fast from well-meaning, if censorious, others, a woman re-entering the state of homelessness tends to get lectured.

The first time I lost my home it happened in a flurry of newspaper clippings. I was among the first to have a home repossessed by the banks. Not the first but a public first (I was in the already in the public eye after I had tried to sell the house on YouTube). As the eviction unfolded, I felt the weight of injustice push down on me from all sides, and I welcomed the media spotlight upon my situation.

Now I am facing into the maelstrom of homelessness again. I am not alone. There are hundreds of families being evicted every month and moving into emergency accommodation. Tens of thousands more sit on the social housing list. For every vocal Erica Fleming, who told her story of homelessness and single motherhood through RTÉ and other media, there are hundreds of silent witnesses.

This time I am lacking any of the securities I felt before. There’s no sense of karma. I smile in all the right places, laugh as loud as the next person and perform daily tasks with astonishing ease. There, look, I am dressed and functioning. Offering words and busily attending to matters.

Last August we were told we must leave. Plenty of time to find a little cottage and a few acres you’d think. But then perhaps you have not been listening to the news or reading the papers.

The freight train of our own personal eviction notice has paid no attention to months, weeks and days in its relentless pursuit of its deadline. It has slammed through all time, steel wheels slicing through our emotive pleas for clemency.

God’s grace descended on us at the final hour but it separated us too. I managed to find my children, now young adults, lodgings in a pretty cottage with just three rooms. There they have sequestered themselves with their belongings and dog and cat. They are creating a new home and I am proud of their independence while all the time there is a tearing in my belly at our forced, untimely separation.

I am residing in a friend’s house. I call it “couch surfing” to sound modern. I am surrounded on all sides by boxes and rails and the sad paraphernalia of a rented life; nothing more sturdy than a chair or lamp. This is temporary: even friendship has an expiry date when accompanied by suitcases.

I wake up this morning, my first morning in my current lodging and look around at my life. To cheer myself up, I am calling it an adventure. This morning I have a new, if temporary, view outside my bedroom window. I am surrounded by fields in turn populated by horses, cows and sheep. It is very peaceful and pastoral.

I’m sure homeless people all over Ireland are trying to convince themselves or their chlidren that their situation is not as awful as it feels. But I do it anyway.