2011
20.09

‘The scariest thing I face? My wife after I’ve forgotten to load the dishwasher’ ~Andy McNab

The Sun
Published: 14 Sep 2011

Betty is the Sun’s take-no-prisoners Mistress Of Modern Manners, who grills a celebrity each week on their standards.

Here she tackles SAS hero and novelist ANDY McNAB on his wife’s interrogation techniques and why he won’t wear underpants.
 
You’re always hiding in the shadows or wearing a balaclava to conceal your identity. How do we know you don’t just do it to conceal spots, bad teeth and a huge nose?

You don’t. It might be for all of those reasons. But then if I told you, I’d have to kill you…

Do you have different balaclavas for different occasions – you know, cashmere for a night at the opera, waterproof for the beach?

Nah. One style suits all occasions. But I never wear it when it rains. That would play havoc with my hair.

Presumably you take it off at home – but you’ve been married to Mrs McNab for a long time now. Does she ever urge you to put it back on?

Well, we have just celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary so something’s going right. I think the quick changes between SAS camouflage gear and my green frog suit keep the magic alive.

You were in the SAS for years. What’s the most dangerous thing you face on a daily basis these days?

My wife after I forget to load the dishwasher for the 20th time.

I’d love to learn some of your techniques. I don’t plan to be marooned in a jungle, but if I did, would I really have to drink my own wee?

Isn’t that what movie stars do to detox? Best plan is to swim downstream and buy a bottle of Evian from the nearest corner shop.

What’s it like At Home With The McNabs? Do you kick open the door whenever you enter a room?

I usually abseil down to breakfast, have a couple of underwater knife-fights with Mrs McNab before reading the paper, then it’s off for some target practice until lunch. Afternoons are spent tracking down locusts for dinner, but my wife will insist on shopping at Waitrose and spoiling all the fun.

Apart from looking good in black, do you have any other special skills?

I can darn socks, cook a mean roast lamb and play the Hawaii Five-O theme tune on the drums.

Is Mrs McNab good at interrogation?

Mrs McNab is very, very persuasive. Best just to tell her everything, immediately.

Does she use tickling? I find that, or sticking my tongue in Mr Brisk’s ear, works a treat.

She tends to go for the classic dripping tap technique.

Is it true you never wear underpants? How come? Don’t you need them for collecting water or carrying ammo on missions?

Nope. Got to be ready for every eventuality. Underpants can only slow you down.

I must say I feel for any of your daughter’s boyfriends. I expect you’ve been tempted to set trip wires and booby traps to keep them at a safe distance from her. Or are you Mr Chilled Out these days?

I’ve still got her place booby-trapped. You can never be too careful.

Having said that, I’m sure she’s got you wrapped round her little finger, eh? I bet you’re a right old softie where she’s concerned.

Never! I am very proud that I have given her the only warnings you really need in life: “Never eat tomatoes, or anything bigger than your head.”

You write best-sellers about fighting. But you’ve been married five times, so aren’t you now just as qualified to write romantic fiction? Are we ever likely to see an Andy McNab Mills & Boon title in the book charts?

Sounds like a good plan to me. I’ll get started on it. The hero definitely won’t be wearing underpants or eating tomatoes.

Source: The Sun

2010
21.08

The last U.S. combat troops have finally left Iraq, and Andy McNab agrees with those of us who think the timing was just right. Commenting in The Sun, McNab made it clear that, though the withdrawal is a positive, Iraq’s troubles are far from over:

DON’T be fooled by the US soldiers whooping and hollering, claiming it’s all over – it’s far from over in Iraq.

But it IS time for the combat troops to leave…

Of course the Iraqi government want troops to stay, it brings them free manpower. They will be the first to claim it’s too early.

But they’ve still got vast amounts of manpower at their disposal supplied by the US, who really ought to be thinking about the problems in Afghanistan.
The time has come for Iraq to start standing on its own two feet.

Read the full article at thesun.co.uk

2010
27.03

March 9, 2010

The Bookwitch: “My alert readers will immediately deduce who that sleeve belongs to, and that the asterisks above indicate that after blogging about Scandinavian Airlines and the Scattered Authors, I have finally met the real SAS. I mean, the real SAS for me is the airline, but it’s the ‘cool and dangerous’ SAS this time.

I met Andy McNab in Birmingham yesterday. At least I hope I did. I went into this bar and started chatting to the first balaclava-ed man I saw. It was him, wasn’t it? With all other writers, if I don’t know them, I google them to make sure I can recognise them. Doesn’t work with Andy. Not that he’s called Andy, anyway. This one tried to suggest he’d be Terry Pratchett today, but you know me. I know my Terry Pratchetts well, and it wasn’t him. He tried it with the wrong witch.

Andy’s lovely publicist Sally had suggested that I might want to interview him. And I did, seeing as I missed him at the local bookshop three years ago, due to someone’s unfortunate lack of understanding my likes and dislikes. The Daughter got to meet him then, so she didn’t need to come this time. Especially since the services of a photographer wasn’t top of my list for Monday’s outing.

The witch had tea and this man in the bar had coke. Whoever he was, we had a nice conversation. He looked rather like a Guardian reader, now that I come to think of it. That doesn’t mean we actually read the same newspaper. In case he wants to sue.

As some of you will want to know what Andy had to say, I’ll now work diligently at transcribing our conversation, and I will strive to make up a really good misquote, because he seemed to quite fancy being quoted wrongly, as long as it’s a good one.

And no, he didn’t really wear a balaclava. It would have attracted attention.”

Source: Bookwitch

Bookwitch posted the interview this week and it’s awesome. We’ll post a snippit but really you have to go read the entire interview!

Andy McNab: “I say “look, if you wanna be in the X-Files, you’ve got to be talented. Get on with it. However, if you can’t read, you can’t read your contract. Contracts are like that (he holds up his finger and thumb to show how thick) and you’ve got to be able to read.”

The Andy McNab interview
March 23, 2010
 
Whether or not the man I interviewed in Birmingham the other week was an impostor, at least it was the same impostor as turned up in G2 a few days later. I’d recognise the man behind those cucumber slices anywhere! Also gather that my way of taking photos of Andy’s sleeve must have caught on, since it seems that some television channel or other did precisely that when Andy talked to the opposition leader. Please note that he met with me first. Everybody needs a sense of priority when they have a busy week.
So, read the interview, and see what sort of man and writer this former soldier is. His interest in getting boys educated is heartening. Enticing reluctant readers to open a book is another thing to admire Andy for. I remain to be convinced of the necessity for his anonymity, but it does make for a different kind of meeting. And he doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is nice.

Andy McNab – ‘I’ve met myself, you know’

He’s well preserved for fifty, this man who claims to be Andy McNab. Good looking and with very few grey hairs. He’s waiting for me in the bar at the top of the red-carpeted stairs at the Birmingham Malmaison. We appear to be in Birmingham’s former mail sorting office, which is quite appropriate for me, at least. Andy leads us to two black sofas by the window, where we can see the entrance to the upmarket shopping mall housed in the Mailbox, as it’s called.

Go here to read the Bookwitch interview with Andy McNab

Photos by Bookwitch’ Ann Giles on Flickr

2010
23.03

Andy McNab: “How you vote at this election is going to affect soldiers’ lives.”

The Sun
By Tom Newton Dunn
Published: 15 Mar 2010

SAS hero Andy McNab last night backed the Conservatives in the General Election – and slammed Gordon Brown for “betraying” Britain’s Armed Forces.
The ex Who Dares Wins soldier accused the PM of underfunding frontline troops for years.

Sun Security Expert Andy, 49, has voted Labour before. But after talks with David Cameron, he said: “I’m impressed. The Tories are the future.”

And the SAS legend insisted he was speaking for thousands of soldiers last night as he vowed to vote for the Conservatives.

But he is sickened by years of Brown starving the military of cash for vital kit – then denying it at the Chilcot Inquiry into Iraq.

Andy said: “It’s time for a change.

“After the way Gordon Brown betrayed the Forces, there’s not a single person I’ve spoken to from my old regiment who’s voting any other way than Conservative. Cameron’s got the SAS vote – that’s for sure.”

He explained “For Gordon Brown to go to the Iraq inquiry and tell porkies was outrageous.How little he has given the MoD to help them fight five wars in 13 years is VERY clearly on record. To then go straight out to Helmand province in Afghanistan – as he did – and pose for photos with the troops to look like the Forces’ friend was unforgivable. That was the last straw for me. It was a cynical PR attempt to bury bad headlines. Anyone who uses our soldiers on the front line like that deserves nobody’s respect. It is a betrayal of everything honourable they stand for.”

Endorsement from the popular Who Dares Wins figure is a big boost for the Tories, as Britain faces the risk of sleep-walking into another five years of Gordon Brown. An opinion poll yesterday showed the Conservative lead over Labour had slipped to just FOUR points. Andy – who became an author after famously leading the SAS Bravo Two Zero patrol in Iraq in 1991 – met Mr Cameron yesterday to discuss defence. The men also spoke of Andy’s two other passions – adult education and halting the rise of the British National Party.

After the lengthy meeting, Andy told The Sun: “Without doubt, the Tories are the future. I’m impressed by Cameron and the straight answers he gave to my questions. I believe he does get the Forces and what they need. And I think he has the will to see Afghanistan through. Now is not the time to go wobbly about the war.”

The Conservative leader told The Sun: “Andy’s backing means a huge amount to us.”

Go here to read the full article

myView
By Andy McNab

“At the beginning of the New Labour project in 1997, I voted for Tony Blair, like a lot of people in this country did. He promised a great vision for us. But I don’t believe Labour ever delivered on that vision.

The education of our kids is far from where it should be.

Social mobility is at its lowest for generations.

And the economy is in an appalling state.

The great dream all seems to have turned to ruin.

But probably worst of all for me is the way Labour have let down the Armed Forces.

It’s crucial for every fighting man and woman out in Afghanistan and everyone who supports them – all the way up the chain to the MoD – to know they have strong leadership at the top.”

Intent

“Gordon Brown never gives that impression. You always get the feeling the Iraq and Afghan operations were Tony Blair’s idea, which he never quite signed up to. That’s probably why he wasn’t prepared to pay for it.

We need a change.

I believe Cameron understands the Armed Forces and what they’re after. From the equipment projects that need to be funded, all the way to the psychological treatment the guys need when they come back from the front line. I’ve also had a lot of conversations with Liam Fox, the man who will be Cameron’s defence secretary. He understands the Armed Forces too. From the way Cameron talks about Afghanistan, it’s also clear to me that he’s got the will and the intent to see it through now.

I am confident the Tories will do what is needed.

So they’ve got my vote this time.”

McNab & Cameron in The Sun

2010
11.02

Despite being quite busy in Hollywood, Andy McNab was kind enough to take what time he could out of his schedule to chat with greymansland.com about Exit Wound, Dropzone, and of course the rumoured ‘Echelon’ movie deal. Transcript below:

GML: Many critics and fans have called Exit Wound the best Nick Stone novel yet. We know that when writing fiction, you are often inspired by real events. Can you tell us more about the background behind Exit Wound’s story-line?
Andy McNab: Great news to hear that Exit Wound is so well liked. The whole idea was based around a story that came out of ‘rumour control’. The story was that Saddam had these two huge golden doors made for his palace in Basra and that they never got delivered from Dubai because of the war. I first heard this story when I was at Basra Palace in 2007. I was visiting 2 Rifles who were the last infantry battalion to stay for the whole six-month tour in the city. The battalion was full of rumours about hidden gold within the palace compound. There were more holes in the ground from the lads digging than there was from the rocket and mortar attacks. After that trip it was really playing with the idea using a people that have spent years talking about how best to rob banks and more importantly how to get away with it. Julian, Red Ken and Dex are based on mates from the regiment that I’ve known for over 20 years. They are just as smooth, stupid and serious as they are in the book.

GML: What places did you visit to research Exit Wound? Usually these places don’t seem to be the regular tourist areas; any interesting anecdotes from your latest trips to the dodgier side of town?
Andy McNab: I was very lucky with Exit Wound as they weren’t too many recces to carry out. I know Dubai quite a while and have spent some time in Russia. In fact I was due to go last summer with my daughter who has become quite friendly with a Russian friend of mine. He called me from Moscow three days before we were due to leave to say he had some bad news. I thought it was about his wife who was due to have a baby within the next month. However he was phoning from his hospital bed after being shot in a Moscow hotel. He was more concerned about my daughter meeting up with his as they were really looking forward to it. Our parting words were ‘maybe next year.’

GML: You are a big supporter of one of our favourite charities, Talking2Minds. What attracted you to Talking2Minds? Do you feel, with the additional publicity of late, things are starting to change when it comes to PTSD?
Andy McNab: I met the lads from Talking2Minds at a PTSD conference where I was giving the opening address. I think the way they are tackling the problem is fantastic and they are getting some great results. Things are starting to change both in the perception the public has about soldiers with PTSD, and the way we are dealing with the problem . I am helping out on a project that is being run by the head of army psychiatry and hopefully the project should be out in the public domain early next year. One thing that is clearly come out this project so far is that the vast majority of soldiers, sailors and airmen who leave the armed services do very well back in the real world. That’s good for two reasons and the main one is that we can concentrate on the minority of people who really need help.

GML: What’s the status for ‘Echelon’, the Nick Stone movie based on Firewall, these days?
Andy McNab: All looking good. What I have learnt during this process is that on average film costing $70m takes about 11 years to get up and running. We’re at the stage now where contracts are signed but there are more Chiefs than Indians running around saying what they want done. However, the script is now finished and so…

GML: Dropzone: Bk.1, your new novel for the youth market, was just released. Your ‘Boy Soldier‘ youth series was written with a co-writer (Robert Rigby). Why no co-writer this time, and what differences might we see with you as the only writer?
Andy McNab: I thought I would just give it a go. Whilst collaborating on the Boy Ssoldier series it became very evident to me that there is no difference between writing adult and teenage fiction. Of course, there are restrictions on profanity, and the fact that a teenager cannot actually kill anybody. But apart from that, there is nothing different, a story is a story. I’m hoping that the style Drop Zone is written in works that adult readers as well.

GML: Finally, Andy, what’s the best joke you ever heard in your entire military career?
Andy McNab: Nope, not gonna tell you!

GML: Thank you very much indeed for your time and best wishes from all of your fans here at greymansland.com

It’s always an honour, a pleasure, and a laugh to hear from Andy. Read more Andy McNab Interviews.

2008
22.12

There’s even big fan clubs where every single word is analysed!

An interview in the Irish Sunday Business Post by Gavin Daly.

Soldier of Fortune

The man behind the pseudonym of Andy McNab has seen his life transformed beyond belief, from battling through enemy territory with Britain’s special forces regiment, to writing best-selling books and documentaries – and occasionally even hobnobbing with Robert De Niro.

In the lobby of a plush Dublin hotel, a man who cannot reveal his full identity is talking about things that don’t usually get discussed in such surroundings. ‘‘The new body armour is stunning,” he says. ‘‘When I was in Afghanistan in September, a parachute regiment lad took a 50 cal round – you know, a big thing designed to hit tanks – into his chest. It knocked him over, broke his ribs and all that – but he staggered up, he was all right. Without doubt, it’s the best gear anybody has got.”

Welcome to the world of AndyMcNab. Or rather, welcome to the world of the man known as Andy McNab – a former delinquent who became a boy soldier at 16 and went on to become a decorated SAS (Special Air Service) officer and bestselling author. A broad-shouldered 48-year-old of average height, McNab doesn’t look out of place in the hotel surroundings, and there is nothing to betray his background. But his face can’t be photographed and, when asked for his real name, McNab demurs. ‘‘My mates know,’’ McNab says, pausing for some deadpan military humour: ‘‘Well, normally, it’s just ‘dickhead’.”

McNab has been out of the British army for 15 years, but he never cut his ties with the organisation that made him a household name after the first Gulf War. In 1991, McNab led an eight-man patrol, Bravo Two Zero, into Iraq to locate and destroy Scud missile launchers and disrupt the country’s communications systems. But after a series of ‘‘cock-ups’’, just one member of the patrol made it out. Three were killed and four – including McNab – were captured and ‘‘went through an interrogation process’’. McNab spent four weeks in an Iraqi interrogation centre and three weeks in Abu Ghraib prison. ‘‘Obviously,” he says, ‘‘it’s quite well-known now.” One day, he was lined up with other captives facing a wall. Behind them, their Iraqi captors cocked their weapons. ‘‘We all thought we was going to get dropped,” says McNab, mixing his native London dialect with decades of Army-speak. ‘‘I’m like, ‘well fuck it, here we go’.” But it was actually a parting ploy from the Iraqis – when one of the captives started to break down, they laughed, secured their weapons and released the prisoners to the Red Cross. McNab went back to soldiering, content that his training had worked. ‘‘Of course, fuck that, I don’t want that to happen again,” is how he describes the episode. ‘‘But actually, it’s all right, I’m here, I’m getting sorted out. I like being in the army, it’s alright.” When he did leave two years later, he was Britain’s most highly-decorated soldier.

McNab was working in private security in Colombia a short time later when the army came looking for him. Keen to end – or at least influence – conjecture about what had happened in Iraq, the army establishment effectively commissioned McNab to tell his story. Bravo Two Zero, his account of the disastrous operation, has since sold over 1.7million copies in Britain and been translated into 16 languages. Using the real identity of a former SAS officer who had been in the North, south-east Asia, Africa, South America and ‘‘lots in the Middle East’’ wasn’t an option, so Andy McNab was born.

‘‘It took five seconds [to come up with],” he says of his alter-ego. ‘‘There was a PacMan game years ago called Munchin’ McNab and that was it. It’s short and sharp and it fit on the cover. That’s all, like a trade name. It was just going to be the one book.”

That’s not how it worked out. McNab has since put his name to two other non-fiction books, including his autobiography, Immediate Action, which has sold more than 1.4million copies in Britain. He has written a ‘Boy Soldier’ series of books for children and 11 thrillers featuring the character of Nick Stone – the latest of which, Brute Force, has just been published. There are McNab watches, beer and ‘‘all sorts of shit’’ available globally. Heady times, you’d think, but McNab is matter-of-fact both about his army career and about what has happened him since.

By his own admission, he was poor at reading and writing as a child, and was in juvenile detention for breaking and entering when he was recruited to the army at the age of 16.Now, he is a wealthy writer (‘‘not so much an author, because author sounds quite establishment,” he says) with film and television projects to his name. Was it a huge transition? ‘‘Actually, I was quite cocky,” he says. ‘‘I wrote Bravo Two Zero in four months. I knew the story; it’s what I now know is a linear story – that’s where it starts, that’s where it ends. Then I had another two months messing about with it, giving it a sense of place, environment, all that.” He took some inspiration from Joe Simpson, the mountaineer who turned to writing after he almost died on an expedition in Chile in 1985. Simpson wrote his classic, Touching the Void, to clear up controversy over the fact that his climbing partner had cut the rope they were sharing. ‘‘It’s such a good book – that sense of place and feel and environment,’’ McNab says of Touching the Void. ‘‘I spent those two months [with Bravo Two Zero] basically putting in the sense of place and all that stuff. Then it went public  and it went ballistic.”

McNab was back in Colombia when the idea of a second book was floated. ‘‘I was on this job and I got this call from the publisher: ‘Do you fancy doing another?’.And it was pissing down rain and I have six weeks’ [beard] growth and it was, ‘well, what the fuck do you think?’. That’s how it all started. It was good.”

‘‘Good’’ is probably an understatement. When Robert DeNiro read Bravo Two Zero, McNab was asked to be the technical weapons adviser on Heat, the Michael Mann film that also starred Al Pacino. He also did ‘‘a bit on Black Hawk Down’’ and films by Jason Statham. ‘‘It was from one extreme to the other,’’ McNab says. ‘‘I was in the regiment, got out and did this whole Bravo Two Zero thing. Within a year, I’m in LA fucking about with DeNiro and all the other lads. It was automatic weapons, Los Angeles and banks. It was fantastic.” Working with Mann also propelled McNab’s fiction-writing career. McNab hadn’t read much as a child, so Mann suggested he think more like a film-maker, ‘seeing’ chapters in his books as scenes, rather than as a daunting volume of work. ‘‘It’s all pictures anyway – you’re trying to create a picture, aren’t you?” he says. ‘‘I just think of it that way.’’

Even 15 years on, however, he cannot say that he enjoys writing. ‘‘No,” he says emphatically, in answer to that question. Does it get easier with each book? ‘‘No.” ‘‘It started as an invitation to write a book, but it’s a business now,” he says. He takes a businesslike approach, starting each book in January, with a deadline of Easter for a ‘‘decent’’ first draft. (‘‘Which this year was a pain in the arse, because Easter was early,” he says.) ‘‘Once I’ve got that first draft, then I start to enjoy it. Then I just keep on ripping it apart and work on layering and layering.”

His relationship with the army means he has plenty of primary material – his last thriller, Crossfire, included fictionalised versions of real operations he accompanied recently in Iraq. Last September, he was in Afghanistan with British units.
McNab’s new thriller Brute Force has an IRA theme and scenes set in Ireland, but McNab gives nothing away about the three years he spent in the North – both as an infantry soldier and a member of the SAS. ‘‘Once you get involved in the covert stuff, you start to understand, you get it,” he says. ‘‘If I lived in the Bogside, I’d probably have joined the IRA. But I didn’t, I lived in south London, so I joined the army.” He believes that the North was ‘‘propelled’’ towards peace after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 brought international pressure to bear on all terrorist groups. Unsurprisingly, he has clear-cut views about the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan – the former is about oil, he says, while the latter is about tackling terrorism. Both need to be seen through with a combination of military action and reconstruction, according to McNab. ‘‘Afghanistan affects our daily life; and Iraq will affect our daily life if we don’t get the oil wells working,” he says.

McNab remains close to the defence establishment, helping to train soldiers and working on education and veterans’ projects. ‘‘I do as much as I can with infantry recruits, because the average literacy age of an infantry soldier is about 11,” he says. ‘‘That’s because, well, the education system is shit.”

His fame opens doors – he has met the British defence minister (‘‘he’s all right’’) and is due to have tea with Prince Charles next month. However, he doesn’t get too caught up in his own hype. ‘‘I don’t even know how many [copies] the last book sold; I can’t be arsed, there’s not enough time,” he says. ‘‘Ultimately, if people like them, they buy them. It increases 5-15 per cent every year depending on what territory you take. Places like Japan, there’s a frenzy.” He claims to be equally unconcerned about his audience, although his publishers and marketing people have probably done considerable market research. ‘‘I’m writing for me, not for anyone else,” he says. ‘‘My nine-year-old godson reads these. And the readership is 45 per cent female. There’s even big fan clubs where every single word is analysed!”

McNab will start his next book in January, but he has plenty to keep him busy until then. A documentary series, McNab’s Tour of Duty, has just been released on DVD, while a film version of one of his thrillers and an eight-part BBC drama – called Warrior Nation – are in the pipeline, with release dates in 2010.

‘‘It’s that weird thing where a little bit of success brings another little bit,” he says. ‘‘You’ve been given the opportunity and you gotta have a go. And yeah, I’m rich. But it’s always been a punt, and it still is really. It’s great, it’s lovely, but it’s not forever; as quick as it comes, it goes.”

Source: Sunday Business Post Online