Cats without hats and other characters…

One of the most popular characters in Sean Yeager book 2, ‘Hunters Hunted’, is ‘the cat’. Here’s a little insight into how I came up with the character. A sardonic robo-cat who saves the day with ruthless efficiency, complete with deadpan one liners and no prisoners taken. Truly a Clint Eastwood among cats.

Years ago I was given a pet. Or rather my parents came home in the early hours from a party one Sunday morning with a tiny kitten and I was instructed to look after it. It was a tiny ball of black fur with bright blue eyes and liked to suckle my jumper. Being young, I thought it was cute and cuddly. I guess it was. Little did I realise.

Over the months and years ‘Bozo’ grew up to become a green-eyed cat with predominantly black fur flecked with brown. He still liked to cuddle up to some body warmth and developed a mean streak a mile wide. If you moved Bozo when he was comfortable he would dig in his claws. All of them. He would still seek out a warm lap though. My best friend was terrified of our cat. I was secretly proud. Especially when Bozo climbed up onto my friend’s lap one day… He screamed like a girl and begged to be ‘saved’.

Famous incidents included the time Bozo climbed onto our bungalow roof via a garage and a leap between two buildings. He had figured out that birds liked to nest near the guttering. I noticed this when he leaped fully into the air to try to catch one. A blue tit I think it was. Like a cartoon Bozo soon realised he could not actually fly and landed heavily on his padded feet. Fortunately, the birds escaped unscathed, but not for long.

Bozo kindly gifted us a number of animals during that time. Usually on the back door mat.  A mouse who had mislaid its head. An adult pigeon which promptly tried to escape from the dining room and nearly made it. Feathers flew everywhere and there was a lot of screaming. And bizarrely a full-sized rabbit. We never did figure out how Bozo managed to catch and drag the rabbit home.

One day, a dog came to visit our house, a little yappie thing with a friendly disposition. It was all sniffs and licks and wagging tail. Pleasant enough. Probably a small spaniel or similar. It trotted around confidently and checked out the house. In the living room, it came across Bozo perched on a settee. Bozo sat there nonchalantly with barely a flicker of recognition. I think the dog was just being inquisitive. It sniffed around the room and trotted over to see if Bozo would play. There was hardly a sound from either animal. The dog seemed harmless enough and Bozo just sat there barely twitching his nose. The dog approached and sniffed right under Bozo’s chin which I thought was brave. In a split second, Bozo raised both paws, extended his claws and dug them into the dog’s skull just above its eyes. The dog howled and howled, while Bozo remained static with a demonic look in his eyes. We had to prise them apart.

Bozo’s finest hour was undoubtedly when he decided to perch on a warm car. Not the bonnet (or hood) you understand. He sat up in the wheel arch near the engine mount out of sight. He remained that way for possibly half an hour. Until, mother dear started the engine and drove away. I have never seen an injured cat move so fast. He sprinted down the garden path at pace with an obvious limp. When we eventually caught up and ferried him to the vet, the news was surprising. He only had a stress fracture to one bone near his left hip. We were told to keep him house-bound and well fed. Bozo tried his very best to escape at every opportunity and made a complete recovery.

So there you have it, a little insight into an unusual animal and the inspiration for one of Sean Yeager Adventures’ most popular characters. I have had requests to continue his involvement in the series. For book 3 I have a cunning plan or two lined up and a couple of surprises.

We came to believe (rightly or wrongly) that Bozo was half a domesticated cat and half a feral or wild cat. Whatever the truth, he was a brave and adventurous animal. I would say pet, but I rather think we were Bozo’s pets at his command. By comparison, other families’ animals were bland. There’s no question and no doubt, Bozo was the toughest cat on the block!

D.M. Jarrett

Hunters Hunted Text 2l

When UK democracy fails and ten steps to improve it

It can not have escaped anyone’s notice that the UK recently held an election. Or did they?

Yes the process was run and votes were cast. Votes were counted and MPs duly took their places in Parliament. So superficially ‘democracy’ was seen to be done. And yet I disagree. Call me nuts if you like, but save that for the end of this article if you would be so kind.

1. First past the post is not democracy.

I voted and my vote counted for nothing. Why? Because I live in a place with a historic majority of Conservative voters. Without fail a Torrie wins. I therefore face a choice, join them or waste my vote. I chose to vote and effectively wasted my time. I voted for policies I believe were better than others presented. I would prefer to vote on issues not for a person.

The solution is clearly and obviously proportional representation and direct elector votes on key issues

2. Representational democracy is not democracy

No matter who I vote for I am in fact voting for a party. The party runs a whip system and the whip ensures that in the majority of cases MPs vote with their party. Unless you are a party activist are they voting for your interests?  Doubtful, highly doubtful.

The solution is mandatory free votes on major issues and direct voting by the people on major decisions of national importance (defined by a democratic constitution).

3. Who voted in the Prime Minister?

It’s a trick question. Everyone and in effect only one constituency. The place where the elected Prime Minister is elected (Witney). Why is this? Can we not separate out who we believe is the best statesman from what we believe is the better choice of party? Apparently not. The two are glued together.

The solution is two votes. One for your choice of party and one for your choice of Prime Minister.

4. Constitutional Monarchy is not Democracy

How many rights does a citizen of the UK have? Do they have the right to protect their own home for example? To not be locked up by the State?  You may believe that UK citizens have intrinsic rights. They do not.

There are many ways the State and agencies of the State can intervene in citizen’s lives. They can bug you, break into your home, arrest you, send you to jail, hold you in a cell, confiscate your property and so on.

One simple test. Try refusing to pay your Council Tax or Poll Tax as it is known. The courts will send bailiffs, you will be charged, you will be found guilty and most likely you will end up in jail or with a suspended sentence. In other words you do not have the right to refuse to pay, no matter what your case. There are very few mitigating circumstances.

Solution – a proper Constitution and Bill of Rights for all UK citizens

5. Europe is not a democracy

Clearly the European Union is a large organisation. It has elections, it has laws galore, it takes and spends vast amounts of money. However consider this: does a citizen of the UK have a vote in the EU? They do not. They can only vote for a representative to attend the EU and ‘represent their views’. Worse UK citizens have never had the right to ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’ of the EU. For reasons best explained by the UK’s past leaders (i.e. paper thin reasons) the UK has yet to have any form of democratic vote given to its citizens which says definitively ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’ .  And yet the influences of Europe are seen daily and are unavoidable. Some good and some bad.

Solution – a mandatory EU ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’ referendum each Parliament for UK citizens

6. Parliament is not democratic

They say they are. Politicians will point at all kinds of historic votes and decisions to prove their point. The problem is that politicians are trained to misdirect and essentially achieve their own ends. Often for their own career aims, sometimes lining their own pockets either in service as MPs or soon after leaving Parliament and joining companies who patronise the parties. It really is that opaque.

Parliament is a an extension of the party system. It is a club. They dine together. Many of its members went to school together. They play out debates, but mostly they do deals. Deals that have nothing to do with the ‘will of the people’. The people in reality are the last consideration of MPs.

Consider this. When were ‘the people’ ever consulted about whether the UK should send its people to war? And when did one of the two major parties ever refuse to vote for joining a war?

And yet history shows quite clearly that the case for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was at best debatable. At worst illegal and irrelevant to the interests of the UK’s citizens. Yet Parliament agreed all on their own to fight both and send military personnel to serve (bravely) and inevitably many lost their lives. Is that a democracy in action? I say without a public vote it is not.

Add to this example – the budgets, EU, National Health service decisions, education system changes, charges for University fees, housing plans, HS2, immigration, deficit reduction, major law changes, military cuts etc. Not one of these major issues has been offered to the people for a direct vote or a binding consultation.

Solution – all major decisions to be subject to binding and direct votes by registered voters. Parliament to be a debating and administration service based on that mandate, not on it’s own mandate.

7. One vote every five years is not democracy

Sure there is a tradition and there are reasons why Parliaments stand for a given term. Currently this is a fixed five-year term. Fixed by law. Why is this fixed by law? Because it suits the party who won last time. Were the people consulted and asked how much democracy they would like? I think you can probably guess.

What is more concerning is the illusion that one vote every five years is anything like a democracy. Who says it is?  Yes the politicians do, because they have a guaranteed job for five years (pretty much). Is this a good thing for the voting population? I say it is highly doubtful, because a lot can happen in five years. A lot of manifesto pledges can be broken or forgotten and the world can change substantially.

Solution – a mandatory election for Parliament every three years or when a government can not withstand a vote of no confidence in Parliament if this is sooner.

8. The role of monarch is not democratic

The monarch still holds substantial powers in the UK. In theory they could refuse a whole list of Parliament’s policies or refuse to support a government. That they choose not to do so is more a historic detail than a legal requirement. In effect, our Head of State is still the Queen. In fact the military and police serve the Queen. The Prime Minister runs the country with the Queen’s consent.

Now I have no issue with the current Queen or the line of succession. My point is simply this – it is not a genuine democratic system to have a Head of State who is born to that right and can (in theory and in law) hold sway over the whole country.

Solution – a clear democratic constitution that stipulates the Head of State as being elected directly by the people. A custodian role for the Royal Family as guardians of that same constitution for and on behalf of the people.

9. The party system is not democratic

In the UK we have two electable parties who can realistically form a government. Labour and the Conservatives. For many reasons the Liberal Democrats and various other parties are neither supported strongly enough nor well enough funded.

Funding being the key term. Money talks and voters vote for fear or greed in the main. Money is needed to fund the parties. Donations are the backbone of the party system (as in other countries). The issue this causes is that those providing the funding expect to be well treated as a result.

The most obvious example is the honours list which sees rich business people awarded medals and titles for being successful. Why is this? Have they served the country so well that they deserve these honours. They may have failed or sacked thousands of people. They may (as in Bankers) have presided over abject failure and systemic abuse of laws and systems. Yet year in year out they are rewarded for service. How convenient.

Another example is taxation and grants. Why is it that successive UK governments have been so weak on changing and simplifying corporate tax laws to benefit the state? Does this have anything to do with the funding those parties gain by relaxing taxation?  You decide. I’m pretty clear in my mind that it is an indirect form of corruption on a huge scale.

It is no small thing to overlook what is good for the country in preference for what is good for a political party. It leads to short-term thinking. It leads to not resolving the major issues (national debt anyone? It’s not a vote winner, put a PR lid on it) It leads to campaigning as a marketing activity only carried out in marginal seats. It can lead to massive cover ups. (child abusers, expense abusers, MPs taking cash for advice / questions / votes).

Solution – proportional representation and direct elector votes so that the people can vote for who and what they believe in, instead of essentially for one of two parties and their party interests (and ideologies).

10. The UK is not democratic

Scotland held a referendum. They said ‘no’ to independence from the UK. A curious thing given that they then voted for the Scottish National Party in virtually all seats in Scotland at the following election.

Wales has a National Assembly and no doubt they too will ask for a referendum in due course.

If you live in England, tough luck. You have no referendums of any kind, not even whispered about. You are essentially at the mercy of the Scots (and possibly the Welsh and Northern Irish)

Why? Because there are far too many Scottish MPs in the UK Parliament. Why do they have so many votes when the English population dwarfs that of Scotland? Another historic legacy which has yet to be addressed in a sensible manner.

Given that your elected representative almost certainly will (at best) represent a fraction of your views in Parliament, they will also be voting in line with Party policy and voting tactically to ensure that the Scots do not sway a decision.

There is also the argument that fear of a Labour and Scottish alliance led to the Conservatives winning the last election. While probably too simplistic, it will not have helped Labour’s cause. It also decimated the Liberal Democrats in all probability (not they did not deserve a humbling for lying about tuition fees).

Solution – the Act of Union to be updated such that the Head of State does indeed govern the whole of the UK without any ambiguity. And if Scotland or Wales are offered a future referendum a constitutional right in law for England to vote on its future as well. (England might wish to divorce itself from both Wales and Scotland for example).

So in summary. Yes the UK prides itself on being a democracy. I say at best it is a partial and flawed representational democracy. There are ample ways in which improvements can and arguably should be made. Do I think this will happen in my lifetime?  Frankly no. Because the other home truth is that the rich and powerful will never let these reforms happen. They are very happy with their own station and frankly do not care about reform one jot. On the other hand I firmly believe it is the right of every law-abiding UK citizen to expect better democracy. I also believe that allowing the rich to become exponentially richer is unethical, corrupt and ultimately destructive for any society.

If the 1% influence (or buy) changes that favour only themselves, then surely the 99% have the right to secure their own interests too? I say that the 1% are given the privilege of protection and civil obedience by the 99% and therefore the 1% owe society a huge debt for that security. If they do not voluntarily wake up and smell the coffee of their own responsibilities, one day they may not wake up at all.

D.M. Jarrett

Sean Yeager Adventures

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief Cover

Liverpool in the mire

First they lose one of the best strikers in the world. A bit crazy and most certainly unstoppable as Suarez is showing at Barcelona.There he won a Champions League winner’s medal so who can blame him for leaving?

Next they lose their long serving captain, who needed to retire and possibly needed to do so a season ago. A great servant and in his prime a great player. Also a hindrance when his pace and temper control faded. Now Liverpool face a mire.

Losing their last two matches of the season in the manner they did shows that Liverpool need a new manager. Clearly the dressing room is not with Brendan Rodgers. If it was there is no way they would have performed so badly. How can they have played like school boys when supposedly trying to give Stevie G a send off?  Unreal.

Want away Sterling has shown himself at best to be naive. At worst to be a prima donna. Should Liverpool make him sit out a season as punishment or hold out for the largest deal they can? Neither is good for the club. Neither is good for Sterling who will struggle at Man City if he joins them. It’s a case of too much too soon, he needs to develop his game further and there is no better place than to be a bigger fish at Liverpool. One or two more seasons and then if he is as good as he thinks he is, an international move would be far better than joining a team of mercenaries (yes that’s Man City). Appalling behaviour too from his agent. Appalling attitude from Sterling too. Money should never be the reason to move clubs and slating your club (as his agent has) shows a selfish streak that fans all over the country will remember.

Bottom line – Liverpool need substantial changes. A better manager. A better attacking line up. A better defence. Better tactics. A new leader on the pitch. And a better purchasing policy for players. If they have youngsters worth a place in the first team, they surely need them now. Clearly the transfer market is a gamble at best. Also I do not see the sense in buying players to loan them out again. If they are good enough play them. It’s not as if Liverpool are overflowing with first class internationals right now is it?

Next season?  Liverpool could finish 10th the way things are progressing or failing to progress. Unless they find two proven goal scorers and two solid defenders it could be the worst season Liverpool fans have endured for many years. And with all the other top clubs building and becoming stronger, every match will be tougher. I fear for Liverpool next season.

D.M Jarrett

Sean Yeager Adventures

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief Cover

Man U recovery on the cards, Man City to win

Having written a piece about the mistakes, I now have to applaud the changes.

Manchester United took the bold and necessary steps to sort themselves out. Van Gaal is the credible manager they needed. Professional, experienced and detailed. Sure they probably won’t win much this season, but watch out. The lack of game plan will be a thing of the past. Work rate and focus will improve. They will become difficult to beat and then difficult to repel.

I still believe Man U need some better key players though, most notably in midfield and defence. The spine of their team is still lacking the leaders and play makers. That said, it will be fascinating to see what Van Gaal develops from within his squad.

So where will they finish? My guess is third or fourth. This season I believe the final Premiership placings will be:

1 Manchester City

2 Chelsea

3 Manchester Utd

4 Liverpool

5 Arsenal

6 Tottenham Hotspur

My rationale?

Man City still have a great squad, loads of depth and a strong manager. Difficult to beat, they will continue to score loads of goals.

Chelsea have strengthened with a proven goal scorer. Midfield is strong. Defence reliable but ageing. In the critical matches I can see them drawing or losing due to their defence.

Man U will have every player competing for their place. For Rooney it is make or break time. For several others it is time to prove they are worthy of the shirt. That is a good motivator to drive them to take results, without necessarily playing pretty football.

Liverpool have lost Suarez, which is a major blow to their squad and confidence. All is not lost, but there is no question – the stats don’t lie – Liverpool will miss Suarez. The Southampton buys are good, but not amazing. Liverpool will draw matches they won last season and lose more often due to their dodgy defence. I just hope Brendan Rodgers figures out a Plan B before playing Chelsea again, because last time he was completely outwitted.

Arsenal are stronger, but lack an enforcer and a strong defence. I can see them winning 5-3 and losing 2-4. If they sealed up their defence with better defenders they could possibly win major trophies (Premiership, Champions League). However, all out attacking football only works with the lesser defensive sides.

Tottenham have an overbearing Chairman. Who wants to work for him? I can see them changing managers again this season and it will unsettle the club. Again. Buying too many players does not work. They still miss Bale and they have not bought well. In the major periods when wins are needed they will again fade.

That’s all for now

D.M. Jarrett

http://www.seanyeager.com 

 

 

 

 

 

Manchester United – what is going on?

As a Liverpool fan I am both amused and a little sympathetic for Man U’s plight this season. While it might sound like hindsight, I never thought Man U would do well this season. Nor next. Why?

1) Sir Alex did not rebuild last season – how they won the Premiership was a minor miracle. They needed to replace five major players last year and somehow came away with the trophy. And they have yet to replace those five effectively.

2) David Moyes has yet to win a major trophy, so does he really have the ability to build and guide a team to win at the highest club level? Really?

3) Sir Alex is watching his every step, that can not be great for Moyes’ confidence or freedom to be himself. It is in my opinion a poisoned chalice in that respect. Take over and be judged by the legend who is still sat in the stands watching and commenting…… who has ever succeeded with that brief?

4) Man U allowed a great manager to be a recruitment consultant – why? Is a great surgeon also a great nurse or a great car mechanic?

5) Everton’s performances under Moyes were workmanlike and difficult to beat , not exactly Champions League standard was it? And no I do not accept the ‘not enough money’ argument. When you are with a club for that length of time it is entirely possible to scout and develop a number of players. Which in fairness they did with Rooney and maybe one or two others. After how long though?

6) The game has moved on. It is now all about rapid passing to feet through midfield and incisive forward movement by the whole team in 3’s and taking turns to move positions. Because Barcelona and Spain have been a massive influence. It is not about 4-4-2 and dogmatic positioning. And nor do Man U have a viable 4-4-2 without the talent in midfield, one moaning striker and one want away ‘in the hole’ player (yes VP and Rooney)

7) The now greatly depleted coaching staff at Man U is not experienced enough at the highest level. They needed some proven top class brains to replace the staff they allowed to leave / pushed. New ideas and fresh thinking.

8) Wayne Rooney – he’s good, but he is not capable of carrying the whole team, as he has also proved with England. Plus can you really build a team around him? Far better to have a style of play with 2 of each position ready to slot in – as Man C have, Arsenal nearly have, Chelsea nearly have and Liverpool aspire to. Man U have been comprehensively left behind in this respect.

9) Where are the talented youngsters? Where is the next Giggs, Scholes, Beckham? Has the pipeline run dry? Can all those scouts and development squads seriously not offer anyone for the first team without a health complaint (sympathies due) or confidence issues?

10) Questionable transfer and retention policy – Pogba was let go which has proved to be a bad mistake. Signing Fellaini? Are you serious? How much for Mata? A Chelsea reject – you know the team Man U have to beat….

11) Where is the vision? Where are the principles upon which the next era will be built? Crossing from the byeline until Fulham die of boredom?  That’s so 1980’s. How many times have Man U players played 1 : 2’s or dribbled into the box this season? Or made space for shots from the edge of the box?  Man U used to be all about counter attack and pressure on the ball, quick passing and penetrating runs – now what? Amble forward, wait for the oppo to park ten buses and then complain if only one of fifty attempts goes in. Duh!

12) My personal favourite and England’s continual blight – playing people out of position. Why do managers do this? If a player is blatantly a central or wide player let them take those positions. It must be soul destroying to be told you can only play in the wrong role for your talent. And then put your goalscorer on the touchline….. Duh!

Bottom line – severe cock-up all round. 

Solutions –

Leadership – decide on the vision – Man U  is mega brand not a plaything, it’s value can also go down.

Sir Alex – take a long deserved holiday and leave the club alone for a while.

Replace Moyes with a proven international winning manager who can speak English, is happy and is not Scottish.

Spend on young players and develop them from within, stop plugging holes with under standard players, bit part players who can not deliver two games in a row.

Build some enthusiasm and fun at Man U – fear only works when people are genuinely afraid, it is not the only way to motivate people. It is not the modern way to motivate players.

Sell off the poor and uninterested to clear the decks

Keep Vidic for as long as you can

Let Rooney go if he wants to, you can not build a team around him and nor should you try. NO PLAYER IS BIGGER THAN THE CLUB – ring any bells?

Play out the season as hard to beat instead of mixed up and hopelessly adrift

Buy one world class ball winner and build a team around rapid passing and counter attack or something like it

i.e have a vision, have some balls and stop being so dour and unadventurous, anyone would think Man U played in a lower league!

BTW – I was not bowled over by Liverpool’s choice of Brendan Rodgers when he was appointed. But I eat my words. The man has a vision and the guts to stick at it. Allegedly he presented a dossier of how to develop Liverpool when applying. Even late last season they began to improve when playing for no honours. And stuck with Suarez the biter…. brilliant and yet what was he thinking?

About time Man U did the same – take a bold step forwards…… or just carry on being a mess for another season.

Gloat? Not yet, Man U’s pockets could be deep if their owners stopped playing funding games for something they clearly can not afford and should never have been allowed to buy.

How to sell books, write a book about, writing a book about how to sell books, about…

And next up – how to become rich – devise a scheme to tell people about how to become rich,   for the bargain price of only £50 and that’s a $200 dollar value pack for no extra outlay people. Concert tour to rub your noses in it – no problem? Cash taken at the door. Currency exchange while you wait. Gold preferred, sell yours here for cut down prices. Bow down before the ones you serve. God money I’d do anything for you.

Cynical? I’m several light years beyond that. “Perhaps another being will feel differently, but I lack the passion to be bothered to represent your work.” Remember everything counts in large amounts. I’ve been low, real low down. Who hasn’t been there before?

Yep it’s the same old stuff in a different brand and size, available now from your local online store, ’cause the shop went bust. You need this new pair of whatseveritscalled to fill the massive vacuum in your space time where reality might somehow claw a way in. Where’s that giant asteroid when we need one? And yes the sun shall become giant and engulf us. Eventually. And lo there shall be a giant sigh of collective relief that the whole thing is done and over with. No more working for the man and fighting against relentless inertia, indifference and entropy. Mid life crisis? Which one. Which year? Lost count. Bored counting. Dressed up like a car crash. A good day is being alone with sunshine, trees and space. A vampire or a victim? Neither one of the lucky ones.

For the children, for the children we shall live. For their innocence and spark of energy. Their not yet knowing about all the crud. Bless em all. Their enthusiasm and passion.

And that my friend (if I may call you my friend) is why I write energetic, fast paced escapism. One day I hope to vanish inside it.

Take care

D<J>

 

 

 

 

 

Print is coming……. to an online retailer near you

 

 

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Hi,

I’m excited to announce that very soon the Sean Yeager Adventures series will have two books in prints. They will be high quality, paperbacks with matte finish covers.

They will be available from Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble and many other outlets.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Waterstones

For a free preview of the first two chapters see the ‘Look Inside’ feature that Amazon offer.

As a quick re-cap for the uninitiated, these are Middle Grade to Young Adult titles akin to Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter and similar works:

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief Cover

 

DNA Thief is a high speed chase into mayhem and brave deeds. It introduces the world of Sean Yeager and his dilemmas with being a protected person for unknown reasons. It also poses questions – Who are the villains and why are they chasing him?

 

Hunters Hunted Text 2lHunters Hunted is a step upwards in many respects and answers most of the questions raised in DNA Thief. Sean’s world has moved on to Kimbleton Hall and he misses his friends. He schemes to catch up with them and meets a new friend Emily. Together they explore a legend of lost treasure which drives people to insanity. They are unaware of a danger which approaches them from every direction. Can they survive? And will they be able to find the treasure?

Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted is a many layered work that mixes adventure, mystery and espionage with sci-fi and supernatural themes.

I am thrilled with the covers and for the chance to factor reader feedback into both titles. DNA Thief is now at Edition two and includes additional scenes and corrections. Hunters Hunted has received some very encouraging reviews and I’m very pleased with how it has turned out.

Happy reading

David Jarrett