Theresa finds handholding can turn to hand-wringing

First printed in the Irish Independent on Feb 6, 2017 The last time I had a special relationship with another person we did, I confess, hold hands. It is what special friends do to show their affection and is moreover tolerated in public, even by puritanical bystanders.I recall vividly that the hands were not small; they were warm and friendly, closing over my fingers in a comfortable fashion. And that is why I watched with some small horror the scenes between Theresa May and Donald Trump, arguably the two great leaders of the free and English-speaking world. It was a first press conference and their smiles were wide for each other, both giving the open-mouthed braying hahahas of leaders in debate. She, smiling coyly over at Mr Trump as she answered for both, dismissing the gaps that lay between them and focusing on the ties that bind. Mr Trump on his part swirled his flat-topped Barnet Fair like a small boy in a shop. Looking this way and that and waiting to be offered his choice of confectionery. Smile, smile, smile – the hallmarks of a special relationship. But it did not end there. Later as they walked, another visual […]

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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 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 […]

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Always be careful to whom you choose to spill your fantasies

Troubled times beget troubled minds. Where once we might have crossed the entrance of our nearest church to ease our worries, now we seek solace in a range of diverse disciplines, from extreme politics to psychedelic culture to new world thinking and personal development. But I have learnt that learning without humour is often lost or put into a drawer that remains unopened. Last year, I attended a one-day boot camp with my daughter. It was a powerful day of new thinking and reorientation but one moment stands out. We were doing an exercise on self-talking. We were tasked with pretending to talk with someone that we loved. We were told to silently tell them how much we loved them and how amazing they were. Once completed, we were then told to reverse roles – ie, to have our loved one tell us the same happy thoughts back. At that stage my daughter started to giggle. She had slightly misunderstood the instructions. The loved one that she had been silently chatting to was in fact her horse. My daughter shrugged her shoulders for she wasn’t sure her horse loved her as much as she loved him. I will never forget […]

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Will the Big Boys please stand up!

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

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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 […]

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Festival Rules

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 […]

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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             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. […]

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A field for … Toby

Toby is a beautiful chestnut Bavarian warmblood gelding.  He came into our lives four years ago. His previous owner thought he had kissing spine, a terminal condition, and he was going to the factory. My daughter Georgina fell in love with him and refused to let him go. We paid the factory (ie meat) money for him and brought him home. It turns out Toby does not have kissing spine. We had chiropractors and vets examine him. However, what he does have is – well lots of things, most of them mental. He box walked, weaved, has herd separation anxiety and lots of other things hard to fathom. Georgina, who as you can guess is animal and horse mad, is also a T Touch student. Her friend and top T Touch healer Sarah Fisher was in Ireland and she came and worked with Toby. Georgina used the same techniques and soon Toby calmed down, relaxed and began to enjoy himself. Of course, there is only one thing better than a rescue horse, and that is two rescue horses. So along came Deano. Deano is a top class racehorse. His sire is Flemensfirth, an American stallion and sire of many racing heroes. However, poor Deano was not very fast, […]

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When Viagra spammers switch to Alzheimer’s, it’s time to take notice

First printed in the Irish Independent June 1 2016 We have to help carer and sufferer break free from their prisons When shoe shiners give you stock market advice, it’s time to sell your shares. When taxi drivers advise on where to buy abroad, it’s time to stay home. But when your spam switches from Nigerian businessmen, cheap Viagra and belly fat pills to cures for Alzheimer’s Disease, then it is time to stand up and pay attention. And none too soon. According to the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, the number of people living with dementia in Ireland is greater than 50,000 this year. And that is probably a serious underestimation of the problem, since there is no official register of people with dementia. A large proportion are cared for by family members and it is generally acknowledged that family carers do not routinely get support from State services as a consequence. Add in to that mix the medical postcode lottery that persists across the country and it is obvious that certain black spots have huge implications, not only for sufferers of dementia but also their carers. Unlike minding a family member with, say, cancer, caring for dementia is treated […]

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Desperately seeking …Me!

First published in the Irish Independent on May 18, 2016 We are a nation of lost souls. We have swapped the security blanket of religion for the cold harsh light of truth. We wander like bewildered two-year-olds lost in a grocery store. What began like a moment of freedom has swiftly translated into a terrifying ordeal. We have three choices: stay out in the cold, embrace it even; return to our mother’s arms and the refuge that lies within. Or we can seek new truths, new comforts.   The latter choice, the era of self-enlightenment is truly upon us. It is the new drug of the thinking classes, the opiate we choose in the search for fulfilment. We had become a nation of fast food snackers and now we need substance. The route to enlightenment has many paths. Last year, I attended a Jordan Belfort seminar – he of the Wolf of Wall Street fame. The seminar was aimed at making money but he caught the mood of the audience at an early stage. Jordan scanned the crowd and sympathetically called us out. We were there to learn how to make money but he ringed our wings by calling on […]

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