Andy McNab interview: “Keeping my identity secret is a challenge”
The Big Issue – 4 July 2014

The SAS man-turned-author talks surfing, Margaret Thatcher, abstinence – and his love of opera

Keeping my identity secret – commercially, it’s a challenge.
I could do a lot more things – I’ve been asked to do films. But in effect I get the best of both worlds because I can bounce around without getting stopped in the street, all that weird stuff. That’s the downside of fame.

The character in my new series of books initially came from an approach from a film studio to be involved with a franchise.
He was called Tom Mullin at first because that sounded nice and hard. But the studio went, nah, that’s not British enough – we want to call him Tom Buckingham. Fortress is Tom getting involved with the right wing in the UK, in an undercover capacity.

As we’ve seen in the recent European elections, the right wing is extremely organised these days, certainly in mainland Europe.
There’s no bomber jackets any more, these guys have got Armani suits. In the UK we’ve got right-wing light, Ukip and all that. Compared with these guys, Ukip are just playing at it.

As you get older you become more politically aware.
As a 17- or 18-year-old squaddie I didn’t really care. I only became interested in the politics when Thatcher came in and she gave everyone a 24 per cent pay rise. Getting in the SAS I was more politically aware because you’re doing more strategic sort of work – taking direct orders from politicians.

My writing routines vary because I travel a lot.
If I’m at home, chances are I won’t even get dressed – I’ll just be dossing around in a dressing gown or a pair of shorts and flip-flops. Get in, get on with it immediately – I won’t even have a wash. If it’s one of them days, I can’t even be arsed to go and get anything to eat, so I’ll just have a bowl of cornflakes.

I don’t drink alcohol at all.
I drink far too much tea instead. I can drink three cups an hour easy. That comes from the military – if there’s nothing going on, there’s a brew on.

To the point of obsession, I love surfing.
It’s like an addiction – I’m sure there’s surfing anonymous out there or something. For holidays I tend to go where the surfing’s good. Hawaii, Costa Rica, loads on the South West coast in the UK. And certainly when I’m in Los Angeles. A few weeks ago me and my daughter went paragliding.

I’m an absolutely huge opera fan.
Most opera is fantastic – the storylines, the three-act drama, the way the morals are told. We’ve been to the English National, and we’ve also been to La Scala in Milan. I’m trying to get tickets for the Ring Cycle by Wagner but my wife says she’s not coming to that because it goes on for 15 hours.

Because I’m on the board of a private military company I’ve been back to Baghdad loads of times since the events of Bravo Two Zero.
I went back to Abu Ghraib, back to the interrogation centre. What’s going on right now in Iraq with ISIS, it’s interesting because we’re back to square one. It’s really crazy because some of those groups, certainly when they were in Syria, we were supporting them. It’s just history repeating itself. I don’t think we’re going to see British soldiers there because we don’t have the capability any more.

Andy McNab’s latest book Fortress is out now  

Source: The Big Issue