Stay Mad, Sweetheart – Heleen Kist

There’s a fine line between innocence and guilt. An even finer line between justice and revenge.

Shy and sensible Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits using her finely-tuned data skills.

Petite corporate financier Suki is about to outshine the stupid boys at her firm: she’s leading the acquisition of Edinburgh’s most exciting start-up. If only she could get its brilliant, but distracted, co-founder Laura to engage.

Event planner Claire is left to salvage the start-up’s annual conference after her colleague Emily fails to return to work. She’s determined to get a promotion out of it, but her boss isn’t playing ball.

As the women’s paths intertwine, the insidious discrimination they each face comes to light. Emboldened by Emily’s tragic experience, they join forces to plot the downfall of all those who’ve wronged them.

But with emotions running high, will the punishments fit the crimes?

Red Dog Press

Message of Love with a pinch of salt

Its the time of Winter Solstice, the new year is upon us and time to take stock. This year has been strange, yes I agree, but I don’t agree that its strangeness was not much to do with us. It was all to do with us. It showed us that we are not prepared mentally and physically to face the many challenges that life might through at us when things are not going great. We left our senses, filled our homes with greed caring less for those unfortunate, pilling up things that we did not need. Taking away the right from people to provide for their families, hyping up the fear to hide our own insecurities. Yes, we did all that, and we are continuing to do so.

This year has been bad, and it will take its curse to the next year and the next after that unless we stand infront of a mirror, look ourselves in the eyes and tell ourselves:

‘Maybe its time to stop projecting our problems and insecurities on to the world. Maybe its time to stop disingenuous engagements, dishonest dialogue, virtue signalling, in the pursuit of hustling attention. Maybe its time to stop blaming others for things we can change in ourselves. Maybe its time to stop taking offense by proxy, time to stop playing the game of victimhood and take charge of the reins of our lives. Maybe and just maybe its time to stop praying for chaos, wishing to see the whole world burn down because we am unable to face the failures of our own lives.’

I hope – deeply and truly hope – that we start seeing the bigger picture. The bigger picture being that we are all in this together. Stop making these little groups, making your own mosques and churches at every corner, stop dividing ourselves up by our immutable characteristics and stop assuming things about others without any concrete knowledge. We are all complex, and with it comes complex and fluctuating thoughts, allow yourself to be free to explore. We have had our fun this year, exaggerated panic over things that are manageable eventually, destroyed public property and acted like thugs and criminals, bullied people into thinking our way, protested for things we don’t even understand, made science more dogmatic, canceled people for having opinions, judged history by the values of today, made new truths and presented them as facts to fill the void of confusion in our own heads – now its time to stop. Its time to clam up, put our toys on the side and grow up.

This is an adult world. And in this world, life is not fair. Life is bitchy, life is horrible and it stabs you in the heart and twists the blade every now and then for its amusement. But we have it better than anybody before us, this is the best time to be alive as far as we know because this is the only time that we are actually alive, so lets appreciate today and work to make tomorrow better. Face our problems and work to fix them. Don’t wear them as a badge of honour. There is no honour in knowing you have problems and instead of working to fix them, you whinge and whine about them. No president, no prime minister, no leader is going to fix your personal problems or your society’s problems unless you are willing to take that step first. The point of being an adult is to learn how to become your own mother, your own father. Don’t expect others to babysit your failures. Your tears are meaningless in the sea of time.

Lets all make a life resolution, this coming new year. To lead life with love and compassion, for ourselves and for those less fortunate. To not be lazy, to not revel in negative habits, to not spew hatred at others even our enemies, to strive to be better and let all thoughts be free. Believe in Buddha, God, Odin, Yahweh, Olorun, Allah, Ahuramazda, various others or none at all – as long as you believe first that we are all one. Humans, complex humans, with different complex ideas but with a simple unifying capacity to love each other, show compassion specially where its least expected and take care of each other. Make this your truth, your defining truth.

This holiday season, I send you all, the most heartfelt of love. Those that are closest to me, those that support me, those that read and appreciate my work, those that know me from a distance, those that disagree with me and those that choose to hate me.

A grave affair ….

I visit this cemetery often in Szczecin, Poland. Its huge but still peaceful. My wife’s babcia is buried there and so is our niece next to her. This year we havent been able to visit their graves and still won’t be able to because of travel restrictions. But as we are forced to spend our Christmas alone, away from our family, they will be in our hearts.

Love those closest to you, regardless of the disagreements and remember those fondly who have now moved on to the world beyond. We are only dust, drifting in the vastness of something we are yet unable to fully understand. All the differences and disagreements we create are of our own making. All ideologies, monetary gains, tribal moralities, all of our own making and so it is rather silly for something we created ourselves to stand in our way of loving each and showing compassion where it is needed most.

This world was here long before we evolved and will be there long after we are no more if we continue down the path of self destruction. It is often said, never go to bed mad/angry at your partner, no matter how bad the fight had been, I think we need to extend that beyond our immediate partners in some way if we wish to live a healthier life in a mentally healthier environment. Lets lead our life with love, compassion and forgiveness, and leave hate where it belongs – in moments, quick to be forgotten.

Chelmsford during first lockdown earlier this year

This is what my neck of the woods looked like during lockdown, first time around. It was very disheartening and I was worried about all the small and family run businesses. I thought that would be the first and last of these measures to be taken – but how wrong was I. I hope we all come back to our senses soon, and adopt an approach more akin to that in the Great Barrington Declaration. Although I know it is unlikely, as these days seldom those in power admit their mistakes and take unpopular approaches that are more beneficial in the long run. This has become the world of populism. The world where everyone craves to be liked, rather than seek the truth. A world where we have tribal ideologies, and no one is allowed to question or think anything that is not approved by their tribe. Such a serious crime to logic and reason. We thought science had finally broken the shackles of incontestable, irrefutable, absolute truths, constants never allowed to be questioned – but now we seem to have made new ones. No one can question ‘The Science’ – regardless of whether its right or wrong and specially when there are alternative collaborations to give new meanings. It has become even worse than religion, where people support parts of it which are made popular, unknowing of the actual knowledge behind it the sheep attack anyone who questions the salient points of the new religion. In the age of abundance of knowledge and the greatest access to knowledge ever known – we have become most ignorant. Why bother understanding or discovering when you can just google it, or follow the latest trend on twitter. Reading and comprehension are two separate things and they will remain separate – I just hope people realize it before they forgo all their cognitive capacity to those who wish to control it. Learn to think for yourself, understand the patterns of information that might trap you in multiple biases, face the world with humility of knowing that you know nothing even if those less fortunate than you might think you know everything, do not take words of others as gospel, and never trust those that deal in absolutes.