2017
11.12

On Andy McNab’s ‘Line Of Duty’ tour Jan Radovic was fortunate to be able to attent one of Andy’s meetings and – lucky for us – acting as Grey Man’s Land on-the-scene reporter. As promised Part 2 with info on future projects and a load of other interesting stuff!! Happy reading and thank you Jan! 🙂

AN EVENING WITH ANDY MCNAB CBE, MM, DCM – Part 2
October 2017 by Jan Radovic

Everyone who follows Andy McNab on social media will know that fans worldwide are always asking about the characters, or the next book. The last we heard of Tom Buckingham was nearly 2 years ago in State of Emergency. I asked Andy when we’d be hearing from Tom again, and what sort of adventures were in store for him and his response will delight everyone:

“We’ve got the film coming up – Red Notice – going into studio production in June, 2018. Hopefully coming out 2019. Book-wise, Tom will be out and about in 2019 onwards. It’s all about time management at the moment…There was tv interest in Nick Stone from The Weinstein group, but not too sure what’s happening with that at the moment. Hopefully some idea by Christmas.”

Ever the Action Man, two years ago Andy trekked to the South Pole. This last year it was the North Pole. I asked if these trips were just grist for the Action McNab mill, or if they served a higher purpose?

“They serve a purpose, but not sure it’s higher. I get asked if I want to do these things, and it’s a great opportunity. Why wouldn’t I? I try to use all these experiences to put in the books, it give you a sense of place and environment, and it’s easier to write about things you know. I am planning on doing the Cresta Run next Spring. If you are given opportunities like these, it feels wrong to turn them down.”

And on a similar theme, in an interview earlier this year Andy stated he was climbing in the Andes of Peru, despite a documented antipathy to climbing. Was this an emulation of Joe Simpson’s climb in 1985 of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes, or something quite different?

“Totally different. It’s exactly the same as the last question. I was invited by someone who like climbing. We walked a famous route called The Big W, and part of it was climbing the mountain. It is literally just plugging the iPod in, switching off and getting on with it.”

On a far more serious note, in 2010 when Andy was questioned about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), he was quoted in The Guardian as saying: “It is starting to be perceived as an honourable excuse for leaving prematurely…” You’ve lately commented on your own struggle with this condition, so please tell us more about that, and your involvement with PTSD999.
 
“I haven’t struggled with PTSD but more of my SAS Troop have committed suicide than were killed on operations. I have been one of the fortunate ones. If there is any struggle, it is making everybody aware that people who suffer from this deserve to be treated as a battle space casualty just as much as someone who has had a limb blown off. That is why I am involved in PTSD999. It’s a brilliant new charity doing two things.
It is making the general public aware that these people have a condition and need and deserve treatment, and they are also communicating to PTSD sufferers that they are not suffering from a mental illness, it is a condition which can be treated. They are also taking the focus beyond the military to first responders – fire, police and medics. Since 7/7 these guys are seeing a lot more than they ever used to.”

Still on this theme, I asked for further clarification: Sadly, returning military personnel with PTSD seems, increasingly, to be the ‘norm’ and the formation of charities dealing with this condition has become a growth industry. Why do you think our Government provides so little help for this, or is it something that is better served from the private or charitable sectors?

“I disagree with this. Ever since the formation of the NHS, veterans’ medical care has always been the responsibility of the NHS. Nothing has changed. 15% of the population have the propensity to suffer form PTSD if they are exposed to traumatic events. It is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. The military clearly see a lot more abnormal events than the average person, which is why there are more sufferers. The MOD are very proactive with service personnel in PTSD prevention and the combination of charities and state help for sufferers has existed since the Crimean War. The fact is that there is almost more that can be done. However, the last 10 years has seen a dramatic increase in help available because part of the problem is that PTSD sufferers feel stigmatised because they feel they have a mental illness when they haven’t. So the struggle is getting the sufferers to the aid.”

We live in a rapidly changing world, with terrorist acts in Europe and worldwide on the up. I asked Andy what his take was on the Government’s latest message of Run – Hide – Tell. Are there other things people caught up in a terrorist situation could, or should, be doing?

“No, the Government’s advice is spot on. You don’t know what you are doing, you are panicking. You might put yourself and the people are with in even more danger if you do different. However, what you have got to do before this is just be aware. If an abnormal event happens around you, for many of us it takes a long while to understand what is happening and to recognise the danger. That isn’t to say that you should walk around fearful all the time, but just to be aware of your surroundings so that if you do see something that is wrong, it doesn’t take so long for your brain to register that it is wrong and to get away quicker.”

We’ve all felt the bite of Government cuts, and in the past Andy has stated that he was behind David Cameron as ‘he gets it’ regarding military needs. How, if at all, has that opinion altered since his departure?

“If your question is whether I feel the current Government understands military needs, the answer is Yes. However, the fact is that the military are part of the bigger picture, it’s a matter of priorities. There is one pot for all the funding to come out of whether it is for the military or for the hospitals or education. That is the job of the Government of the day, to prioritise. We are currently seeing cuts to the Royal Marines and the Navy. I might not agree with it but I get the fact that the government has to make decisions with a bigger view of what is going on in the country and where spending needs to happen.”

Still on the theme of funding, I commented that despite vast sums being spent on the training of our troops and SF units with their transferrable skill sets, do you think the Government is doing enough to help those entering civvy street find work, or is this something that organisations like ForceSelect, Heroes4Hire, and Hire a Hero are for?

“Transition back into the “real world” has always been a tough thing and I agree that the system that does the transition could do a lot better. That is why companies like ForceSelect exist, they can do a better job because they are out there competing in the real world already. Also, the MOD needs to be doing more to let servicemen and women know the skills that they have got. Triservice not only produces amazing soldiers, sailors and airmen, they also produce fantastic citizens, and that message really needs to be pushed home.”

And finally, as every good interviewer knows, it’s always fun to end on a note of light relief so…

Q: Do you keep a weapon in your bedside cabinet?
A: No, of course not. (Bet he does, really.)

Q: Who is your money on for the Remembrance Day Rumble on November 11th – UKSF or USSF?
A: It’s got to be UK, obviously. (Quite right, too, and our money is on Matt ‘Ollie’ Ollerton.)

Q: How many points on your driving licence?
A: Points? What points? (Probably should have asked if he’s actually got a driving licence…)

Q: When’s the last time you ran the Fan Dance?
A: 4 summers ago. (He could probably give me a 2 hour lead and still beat me.) 
[‘Probably’ Jan??? ~GML] 

Q: Will you accept the knighthood when it’s eventually offered?
A: Yes, of course. (Phew!)

And finally, any last words or revelatory exclusive for the readers of Greymansland?
A: Buy more books!

Jan Radovic

Great read Jan! Andy, thanks as always for your time and Laura for making it all happening.
You’re the best, all of you!
 
Lynn & Jon – Greymansland

2017
12.07

UPDATE: And the winner is… Roy Jones. Congrats Roy!! We hope you enjoy the book 🙂 Our selection of questions was sent to Andy and we’ll publish them – of course – when he’s answered and returned them. So keep checking here from time to time!

We’re very happy to be able to offer one of Sean Harkers fans a copy of the new ‘Street Soldier’ book ‘Silent Weapon’ – signed by Andy no less!!

There’s more good news… if you have a prying question for Andy you may be lucky – he will answer 10 questions and one could be yours! The book will go to the creator of the most original question.

So think of a good one and send to lynn@greymansland.com before 1 August!!

‘Silent Weapon’ is published mid August and will be send to the lucky person after Andy has signed it for you.

Good luck!!
Silent Weapon by Andy McNab

2017
22.06

The Times
22 June 2017

Andy McNab: ‘To stop Isis we need to attack the brand’

The tearaway boy turned SAS soldier says we need a new approach to angry young men.

Election aside, of the three events to have dominated our news in recent weeks, Andy McNab has first-hand experience of two of them. As a former member of the SAS, with many of his nine years of service in the regiment spent in Northern Ireland, he knows about dealing with a terrorist threat.

Go here to read the full article in The Times

The Times Andy McNab in Helmand

 

2017
01.02

The Guardian
Tuesday 31 January 2017

Andy McNab says joyless education is damaging poor children’s literacy

Bravo Two Zero author, who didn’t learn to read until he was 16, says his experience working in schools shows that a box-ticking approach to tuition inhibits reading skills of the less privileged

Government literacy policy that emphasises grammar over enjoyment is discriminating against poor children and has contributed to England’s position at the bottom of a ranking of reading ability in developed nations, according to SAS soldier-turned-bestselling writer Andy McNab.

The Bravo Two Zero author, a reading ambassador for the literacy charity the Reading Agency, said children in failing schools were hit by a double whammy because teachers had no time to encourage the enjoyment of reading because their time was taken up “box-ticking” for Ofsted inspections and dealing with students’ basic needs. “The whole educational system is so clogged now that there is no time for teachers to encourage kids, and the enjoyment of reading is lost,” he said.

As a result, he said, children were leaving school with poor literacy and worse. Citing “failing” schools visited as part of his Reading Agency work, he said teachers’ time was taken up addressing the immediate needs of children from deprived backgrounds, who arrived in class dirty and hungry. He added: “By the time they were ready to start learning they had lost a third of the working day, so there was no time for them to just enjoy reading.”

McNab is a regular on the school circuit, and his work promoting literacy was recognised last year with the inaugural Ruth Rendell award. Teachers, he said, were frustrated, because they were being prevented from inspiring students with a passion for learning and reading. “There is so much compulsory stuff in the curriculum that it becomes like ticking boxes,” he added.

McNab, who did not learn to read until he joined the Army at 16, said that while the prescriptive curriculum was not a problem for children who were exposed to books at home, it left those from deprived backgrounds disadvantaged because they had few role models outside school to encourage them to read. “Kids from working-class families are being failed because they don’t come from a middle-class culture where everyone reads,” he said.

His comments come before Thursday’s launch of Quick Reads, a series of six short books..(..)

Go here to read the full article in The Guardian

2017
28.01

If I can just get one kid to pick up a book, or give school another chance when otherwise they wouldn’t, then I feel that it was all worth it. ~Andy McNab

ALCS
25/01/2017

The winner of the inaugural Ruth Rendell Award for the writer who has done the most to raise literacy levels in the UK, tells us why adult literacy is a cause very close to his heart.

1. Did you have any idea you were in contention for the Ruth Rendell Award, or was it a complete surprise? What does it mean to you to win it?

The first I knew was when I was told I was on the shortlist. I felt incredibly proud and also grateful to all the people who had suggested and supported my nomination. I never for a second thought I’d win, though. It was enough to just be nominated.

2. Why is literacy a cause so close to your heart, and in what ways do you see yourself as most effective in championing it?

It is something I feel really passionate about because it changed my life. As a child I was in and out of schools, never engaging and never switching on and bothering. When I joined the army (straight out of Borstal as a nearly 17-year-old) I had the reading age of an 11-year-old. It was the army that taught me to read and write, and just as importantly, showed me the power of education as an enabler, an enhancer and a launchpad. I go into schools, workplaces and prisons as often as I can and the message I want to give them is simple: You just need to switch on and start taking advantage of all the educational opportunities being offered to you. What education does is give you knowledge, and knowledge is power, power to make your own decisions and do what you want with your life. Frankly if I can do it, anyone can.

3. Would you share with us a recent project or a case history you have been involved with which has particularly gladdened your heart?

There are plenty of these. But one that has stuck with me was going to a youth referral centre in Yorkshire, for kids who had been excluded from mainstream schools and to a great extent been ‘given up on’. They had also pretty much given up on themselves. They weren’t the easiest audience, that’s for sure, but I’ve been there, I know what they are fighting against, I know what support they need and aren’t getting at home or in the community, and perhaps no one had talked to them before who had stood in their shoes. So we chatted about a few war stories, but also about my experiences of education and what reading has allowed me to do with my life, I signed a few books for them and left. A few weeks later I had an email to say that they had started their own book club. Not set up by the staff, but instigated and organised by them. That really made it all worthwhile. But the thing is, it’s not a numbers game, I’m not in it to convert the masses. If I can just get one kid to pick up a book, or give school another chance when otherwise they wouldn’t, then I feel that it was all worth it.

4. What particular projects will you be championing this year, and where will your work take you?

I’m off to the North Pole quite soon. I did a 100 nautical mile trek to the South Pole last year to raise money and awareness for the Reading Agency, and I think I’ve got the polar bug. Either that or it’s messed with my mind! That will be taking up a fair bit of the first part of this year, and then there is a bit of writing to do (my editor will start hyperventilating at that – he’s expecting the book to be finished by Easter!). By the end of the summer I hope to be back on the road doing a bit of promotion for the book but equally importantly getting back to schools, juvenile detention centres, prisons etc. to start bending some ears again. I am an ambassador for the Reading Agency’s Reading Ahead programme (formerly Six Book Challenge) and I do as much as I can getting into places on their behalf as that is a fantastic way to get people engaged. For people who have never had any kind of accreditation, fulfilling the requirements to receive that kind of certificate means a lot. And it really can change lives.

5. ALCS News is read by a broad spectrum of published writers: is there anything we can all do as writers to help to support the cause of adult literacy?

I think supporting organisations such as the Reading Agency and the National Literacy Trust with their campaigns is incredibly important. We are in a privileged position as authors. One practical way is the Quick Reads series, which are short (around 15,000 words) novellas or non-fiction books written for ’emerging’ readers. There is a specific style sheet and strict rules on how to write, and the hope is that they are a platform for readers to then go on and read more challenging works. That is definitely something worth getting involved with if the opportunity arises. Then of course there is supporting places like local libraries and also local independent bookshops. We have influence and the ability to engage people. Let’s use it!

Source: ALCS website

 

2016
27.10

Andy McNab in conversation with Hal Stewart on BFBS Radio
26 October 2016

Teaser clip interview with Hal Stewart above.