Divorce is a dish best served cold

A recent complaint before The Law Society would suggest warring spouses should think twice before seeking legal heavyweights to resolve matrimonial differences.

The subject of the complaint, the current Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, was unanimously and totally exonerated of all claims in the case which arose from a difficult family law dispute between Michael Izatt and Jillian Godsil. The complaint was brought by Godsil who had retained Shatter as her divorce lawyer until he came off record mid-way through her divorce proceedings. His actions prior to that point, and indeed subsequent, were the object of the long winded, but ultimately rejected, complaint.

Godsil may be known to some as the Irish divorcee who sold her house on YouTube until the banks stopped the sale. She was landed with a mortgage of some €1million on a house worth less than half that amount when her ex, returning to the UK to go bankrupt, gave the entire mortgage to his ex-wife and their two young daughters. Last month, she was served repossession papers, so she dropped the asking price of her well-known Georgian Manor House to €250,000 and has received a formal offer. However, her bank refuses to talk to her as yet and repossession hearings are proceeding. It is worth noting that the house was once valued at €1.65 million in the days of the heady Celtic Tiger and indeed she received a cash offer of €500,000 last year which the banks refused.

Of course, whatever price the house finally sells at, under Irish law, Godsil is now solely responsible for the balance of the mortgage.

Godsil’s fame, notably for being broke, was aided by a quirky video to sell the property. This went viral and her story featured in papers, online, radio and television both domestically and abroad. She was featured on American radio, Belgian TV, RTE, TV3 and most recently on BBC2’s Newsnight programme.

In all her many public interviews Godsil has said relatively little about her ex’s role in her financial demise and nothing at all about her legal adviser. The former has avoided public disapproval possibly because he is the father of their two children and she has concentrated instead on the disparity in the bankruptcy laws between the UK and Ireland. On the latter, her dissatisfaction with the legal service afforded her (a moot point, of which more later) seems not to have been given airtime as she was following a formal complaint procedure with The Law Society. If that was indeed the case, any hopes for any satisfactory conclusion were dashed this month when The Law Society utterly rejected all her causes for complaint.

The main reason for the breakdown between divorce lawyer and client appears to have arisen from advice dispensed at the beginning of the legal proceedings. Godsil and her ex were directors in a limited company whose purpose was to provide public relations services. This PR Company was run by Godsil and enjoyed lucrative revenues during the boom years. As the marriage disintegrated, Godsil was advised by Shatter to set up a new company, taking nothing from the old. He explicitly advised her in writing to remain as director in the old company as there were considerable collectibles still outstanding. Despite her misgivings, Godsil followed this advice to the letter.

Of course there is nothing so dirty as divorce. The old company without Godsil at the helm soon stopped altogether and the wounded Izatt was advised by his then law firm (he changed legal teams three times in the process of this protracted divorce) to put Godsil into the Commercial High Court for the abrogation of her fiduciary duties under the Foss Harbottle exception. This precedent basically rules that an individual cannot be director of two, competing companies. No doubt the ‘cha-ching’ of cash registers could be heard on both sides of the benches at this opening salvo.

Godsil felt increasingly unhappy that following to the letter as she saw her solicitor’s instructions had laid her open to such charges. Although Shatter argued, ultimately successfully, that the Commercial charges were an attempt to extract palimony from the wife and lodged a family case in the High Court at the same time which ultimately joined the commercial case, his advices continued to rankle with her. As time went on, she also objected to being told by her own divorce lawyer that she had indeed contravened commercial law and that it was her fault her actions laid her open to these initial commercial proceedings.

The Law Society totally upheld Shatter over Godsil’s complaint that his initial recommendation had been badly advised and exonerated him from any wrong doing for his advice. However, what cannot be denied was the rapid deterioration in the professional relationship between Shatter and his aggrieved client. Finally, Shatter requested that he come off record but refused to release her files to her new law firm.

At the point, midway if she but knew it in the torturously expensive legal proceedings, Godsil had already paid an initial sum of €4,000 as a deposit to Shatter and had borrowed a further €22,000 to pay interim bills after strong requests from the legal firm while relations were still cordial.

Despite payment of these significant sums of money and while being intimately acquainted with the downwardly spiralling nature of Godsil’s financial affairs, Shatter refused to release her files until finally ordered to by Judge Abbot. This was not without consequences as Godsil’s new legal firm were forced to act as guarantors of her debt, a position which made them very unhappy.

Godsil went to taxation (to fix final fees by the independent Taxing Master) but only managed to reduce the balance of her fees against Gallagher Shatter by approximately €5,000. She still owed some €30,000 plus. A taxing accountant hired for the purpose of representing her professed that he was so appalled by the proceedings, and upon successful reduction of her balancing liability, did not tender a fee note to Godsil. His opinion seemed to suggest Godsil had been through enough. Of course, there was more to come according to the complaint, again totally exonerated by The Law Society.

At that stage Godsil began trying to repay the balance of fees to Gallagher Shatter in installments of €500 per month but soon ran into difficulties when the firm refused to issue her with receipts. She sought advice from The Law Society who advised her that she was entitled to them, but claims that no receipts were at any stage forthcoming.

As Godsil faced into the final and protracted legal proceedings with her ex (he changed law firms as mentioned three times, sometimes failed to have a legal representative and forced delays when he did not have documents to hand) she discovered Gallagher Shatter had named her in Stubbs Gazette and moreover began debt recovery proceedings in the Circuit Court. As her current divorce solicitors were unable to represent her due to a conflict of interests, Godsil was forced to hire yet another solicitor to represent her.

Prior to this she sought to head off the fresh and unnecessary legal action by writing to Shatter and confirming that not only would she pay but she had an asset under advanced negotiations and would be in a position to clear the debt in its entirety within a matter of months. Her new divorce firm, also defacto debt collectors for Shatter, wrote to say exactly the same. However, these letters and assurances were ignored and the matter proceeded.

Godsil tried to argue to The Law Society that pursuance of the outstanding debt was vexatious as she was not denying payment, indeed would be able to pay in a very short time period and was moreover guaranteeing this assurance in writing from her legal firm. The Law Society totally upheld Shatter and denied this complaint too.

Another serious complaints rejected by The Law Society was Godsil’s claim of doubling billing. Shatter charged a consultancy fee for his time and also charged for whatever junior solicitor was present taking notes, pushing consultation fees to near four figure amounts. This was rejected as a complaint by The Law Society as these terms and conditions were clearly set out in the opening letter of appointment. Godsil tried to argue that such was her distress at her marriage breaking down she was not fully cognisant of these terms. She also argued that she could not remember actually signing this appointment letter and to her knowledge Gallagher Shatter were not able to furnish a signed copy of these terms. Her complain was rejected.

Not providing receipts initially rankled with Godsil on a professional basis, as part of the legal fees were to be borne by her company, but both professional neglect and possible noncompliance with revenue were rejected out of hand.

The other long list of complaints brought by Godsil, and rejected by The Law Society, included claims of verbal bullying during consultations (supported by family members who attended with her) and extreme rudeness by office staff, including having the phone hung up on her during one conversation with a secretary. Another twist in the tale was a phone call made by the Minister after an anonymous piece featuring Godsil ran in the Irish Independent. The article covered the dropping of interest by the Minister for his fees once he gained office. However, this article caused the Minister to ring a mutual third party and advise Godsil not to go public with their professional relationship. Godsil claimed it was a question of intimidation by the Minster. The Law Society said it was not.

Asked why she pursued her complaints through The Law Society and not through adversarial means where costs might be gained, Godsil replied that her intention was to highlight the possible abuses that the incamera rule in family law afforded solicitors. “I would not have anyone experience the lack of professional courtesy and bullying I received at the hands of my solicitor. It is an open secret in legal circles but only hard learnt by individuals such as myself. Divorce is hard enough without your solicitor attacking you.

“Having survived the long winded, painful and hugely expensive ordeal, I am moreover deeply saddened that every single one of my complaints has been rejected by the Law Society, especially the accusation of bullying,” she said.

So there the sorry tale ends. When everything was accounted for in the proceedings Godsil had nothing left over. Like the infamous Jarndyce and Jarndyce affair in Dicken’s Bleak House, when the lawyers stopped talking everything was gone in costs. Godsil seems to have been singularly unlucky in her relationships both in her initial choice of husband and subsequent divorce lawyer. Her ex husband has walked free of the million plus debt on the family home through the vagaries of inter-country commity and her long list of complaints against her divorce lawyer have been totally rejected by The Law Society.

May she have a happier experience in choosing husbands and divorce lawyers in the future.

ends

The Next Big Thing

On Wednesday 2 January my ‘Twitter/Crime/Modest’ friend Susan Condon tagged me in an online blogging initiative called The Next Big Thing which is a series of questions about writers’ next projects. The idea is to draw attention to writers and their blogs and to lead readers to writers they might not have come across before.

I have given Susan three labels as one is not enough. We first met as strangers in 2011 on the steps of the Westin having recorded a Christmas charity single that went into the Irish charts at number eight. Four of us started a conversation literally as we were leaving and have been in frequent contact ever since. Twitter is great for making new friends in real life.

Crime is of course Susan’s thing. So much so, her husband sometimes lies awake nights wondering if he is safe.  Recently I had a very funny conversation with Susan and another friend and crime writer Lousie Philips at Maria Duffy’s book launch. The two girls regaled me with stories of how they searched for gory details online on how to kill someone, what happens when you stick knives in funny places and then about bodies decomposing. Their children were less than pleased their kind mothers were engaging in such research and even worse, writing about it. So armed, I returned home to my two teenagers and said wasn’t it better that I was writing about sex and not horrible serial killers and the like. Both my teenager children said they would categorically prefer if I wrote about twelve year olds being killed! Hmmm.

Finally, Susan is one of the most modest people I know. She was won loads of awards and prizes and you’d have to stick knives into funny places before she would tell you. I am looking forward to her book very much. The little snippets sound thrilling. She is also a great supporter and friend and compassionate woman. Even if she writes about murder most foul!

 

My Next Big Thing:

Can I be greedy and say I am working on two next big things? Can I? Can I? They are both so different that it is like inhabiting two very different worlds. The first is a non-fiction book on the impact a severely disabled child has on a family; the way the lives of the parents and siblings are affected. It is a heart breaking book and the family were very honest with me. It is very painful and does not have a happy ending.

The second is of course a sex book. Absolutely salacious. I may have to publish under a pseudonym. However, I believe my book has a lot to say about a woman dating in her 40s post-divorce. Unlike the very obvious 50Shades, my sex book really looks at dating issues and then of course has lots of sex!

What is the working title of your book?

The non-fiction book is tentatively called Waiting for the Gift – in direct contrast to the notion that having a severely disabled child is blessing. Love is there but the burden is overpowering. My sex book has the working title of … My Sex book, lol.

Where did the idea come from for the book?  

The non-fiction book happened as I was approached by the family who wanted to share their experiences, good and bad, to help people facing the same issues and also to open the eyes of people, such as myself, who literally had no idea. My sex book was born from necessity. I was broke and decided that my poverty must be overcome. Sex sells!

What genre does your book fall under?  

Gift – the human condition with heart breaking aspects and some self-help and growth aspects. I guess it might also be considered a biography of a family in stress.

Sex – mainstream women’s commercial literature with plenty of good things to say about the human condition. Aha – there are some similarities between my two books aside from a common author

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?      IFTAs2012 019

Michael Fassbender can play the brother in the first book and the lover in the second. In fact, he can play all the male parts! Should Mr Fassbender agree to play the main lead in my Sex book, I think it only fair I should act opposite him.

 

 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  

Gift – uncovering the myths surrouding disability and the impact on the family

Sex – how to live, survive and have fun post-Divorce

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  

Gift took the guts of a year as I interviewed and wrote. Sex took six weeks for the first draft – I wrote like a woman possessed

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?   

I don’t believe there is a comparable book with Gift, not to my knowledge anyway.

Sex – of course 50shades but with a cold dose of reality and a very likeable 40 year old main protagonist

Who or what inspired you to write this book?   

I was invited to interview and recount Gift. I found it a real privilege to do so and found it very, very sad.

Sex was inspired by life but driven by poverty!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  

Some friends have been kind enough to read early proofs of both my books. With Gift a friend who works with siblings affected by disability in families said she found it very powerful and true. It is a story often forgotten and rarely told.

With the Sex book, the general reaction is for women to book their husbands into hotels and for men to take cold showers. I say no more….

When and how will it be published? 

Both are with my agent. I was very happy to give him Gift and really look forward to hearing back. I was mortified to give him Sex – poor man, what did he do to deserve to have to read that!

Just before I hand over to my tag team I wanted to add…

My life this century has been a little bit interesting. I write a blog which reflects that and also my latent activism. Sadly I have been severely impacted by divorce and debt and struggle to survive financially with my two great kids. I believe I have been given a voice and should use it. I have a huge number of people who support me but even more importantly are those people that I don’t know but who are in the same pickle as myself. One might fall, but together we can create change.

Or as citizen Smith once said …come the revolution! Lol

My other books are available on Amazon or Lulu

And now over to my diverse and interesting fellow writers – watch their posts on Wednesday January 16…

Tommy Collison

Tommy is an Irish student, blogger and writer. He writes and listens to a lot of music. He is a secondary school student in Limerick.

Links

https://twitter.com/tommycollison

www.tommycollison.net

 

Mary Bradford

Mary Bradford is a published writer of short stories in magazines, newspapers and anthologies both in Ireland and the USA. She had completed her first novel ‘A Thorn in my Side’. Her first short story collection, ‘A Baker’s dozen’ is now on sale on Amazon, Createspace and Smashwords in paperback, Kindle and ebook format.

Links

https://twitter.com/marytbrad

http://marytbradford-author.blogspot.ie/

 

Patricia (Trish) Nugent

Trish lives in Terenure, Dublin, and is a writer of poetry,memoir and short stories.

A part time actress, Trish has appeared in Fair City, Love Hate and several Movies and TV commercials.  She is a full time wife and mother of three sons and one daughter. She is a member of Rua Red writers group and An Cosan Drama group in Rua Red.

In 2011 Trish represented ‘Platform One’ for social Inclusion week by performing her own monologue ‘The Bisto Tin’ onstage at the Civic Theatre.  Presently Trish is compiling a poetry and memoir collection.

 

Links:

https://twitter.com/Trish_Nugent

trishnugentwriter.wordpress.com

 

 

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