2017
06.11

With Andy McNab on his ‘Line Of Duty’ tour we were fortunate Jan Radovic was (extremely) willing to act as Grey Man’s Land on-the-scene reporter. If you’ve never been so fortunate to attent one of Andy’s meetings here’s her report of what you’re missing out on! Betting you’ll be as envious as we are!!
Jan also got Andy to answer a few prying questions – we’ll post that soon too so keep watching this space 🙂
Thanks so much Jan, it’s a great read 😀

AN EVENING WITH ANDY MCNAB CBE, MM, DCM – Part 1
October 2017 by Jan Radovic

What’s it like to spend a night with SAS legend Andy McNab? You’d have to ask his nearest and dearest that one, but an evening spent listening to this man of action’s life of blood, guts, mayhem and war is thrilling stuff…

The variety of audience members is something I have found intriguing over the years; back in the day 50 or so people would gather in an upstairs room at an upmarket book store with a good mix of male/female and youngsters, and all for the princely sum of a fiver. These days the venue is more likely to be a conference room at a motorway-friendly hotel or, as last night, in the auditorium of a school. Attendance numbers are up noticeably, as is the cost: £20 for entry which also included a hard copy of the latest book and, of course, a talk and Q & A session, following by the book signing. Last year the event I attended had over 300 bodies, almost all men with the majority being squaddies or ex military. The testosterone level was so thick it was almost oppressive. Last night’s event was a far more genteel affair – well, the Woodhouse Grove School is a fee-paying public school so one would expect a somewhat different audience – and the split between male/female/6th form students was fairly equal. I asked Andy why he thought this occurred and he informed me that it’s all down to who arranges the bookings and where. What hasn’t changed one iota, though, is Andy’s obvious commitment to reading, and enthusing others with his mantra that knowledge is power.

After a brief welcome and introduction from one of the school’s pupils, who was framed by an array of camo-draped backdrops displaying a rather long finned rocket and flanked by what I think was a GPMG (or Gimpy) and a couple of bergens (the large rucksacks favoured by the military) the stage was set: enter Mr McNab to rousing claps of applause.

To anyone attending these events regularly they are somewhat formulaic in that Andy usually gives a brief description of his childhood and the antics which led to his incarceration at Borstal (think of the film ‘Scum’ and you’ll have an idea) but went with an option to join the military instead. If you want chapter and verse on this period read his autobiographical book ‘Immediate Action’.

From his early years Andy moved on to talk about THE defining moment, although he didn’t fully appreciate that at the time. The regimental Sgt Major informed the newly signed up boy soldiers that their average reading age was 11, but that was all about to change. Contrary to what these lads thought, they weren’t thick, they were merely uneducated. That night Andy read his first book – a Janet and John book. Aside from learning never to climb trees with either as they always seemed to fall out, he discovered that every time he read something new, he learned something new. And, as the man said, knowledge is power to do the things you only dreamed of previously.

The Bravo Two Zero job was the next topic up and it’s clear that Andy feels great pride that this is still the top selling military book of all time, and that following its publication recruitment figures for the military shot up. As the majority of this part of the talk was all known to me, I took the opportunity to study some of the audience surrounding me which included a mix of mainly men, but also a handful of women, and youngsters. The chaps were all leaning forward in their seats and it was obvious they were dying to ask questions, while I noticed half a dozen women wincing at the matter of fact bluntness of talk of ‘taking out the enemy’, describing a colleague who didn’t make it as a ‘sad bastard who was too old and too fat’ to catch a goat herding lad. The youngsters in the audience didn’t seem a bit phased by all the talk of war, dead bodies, or torture. This apparent cold bloodedness is common in those who put their lives on the line. People like soldiers, firefighters, and police officers I have spoken with say it’s a defence mechanism to protect their sanity; whatever works.

When Andy touched on the ‘tactical questioning’ AKA torture, which he and others underwent during their incarceration he was very philosophical about it all: they – the Iraqis – wanted information and questioning prisoners under duress was one of the quickest ways to get it. One of the audience members asked Andy if he would still slot the Iraqis who carried out the worst of the torture and his response was typical: ‘Yeah, yeah. If I could get away with it.’ C’est la guerre.

We heard a few tales of his time in Northern Ireland (the primary reason he still refuses to be openly photographed as there are still people out for his blood), as well as his introduction to jungle training after earning his sand coloured beret. He didn’t mention his crescent shaped scar (which was acquired via a leech and is probably every man’s worst nightmare. Read ‘Seven Troop’ for the full gory details).

Andy touched briefly on his time within a PMC (private military company to the likes of us), and informed us that when he went out to Iraq with others from his PMC they ‘stole an hotel’. As you do. Despite having no water or electricity they offered it as high end accommodation for hoards of broadcasters and, presumably, made a financial killing. You can take the boy out of South London, but…  Andy McNab is, and I suspect always will be, a hustler at heart. I didn’t get the chance to question him about Bravo2Burgers or his range of camo bras and knickers (Fact), but diversity seems to be key with this man.

Being a psychopath – a good one – just ask Prof. Kevin Dutton (The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success) – is possibly what drives this coiled spring of a man. Andy McNab obviously took that Sgt. Major’s words to heart all those years ago because there appear to be few topics he hasn’t read about or have an opinion on, and he has a finger in a multitude of pies. Aside from his writing, which is his bread and butter, Andy is on the board of ForceSelect, an organisation set up in 2009 to help ex military personnel make the transition into business civvy street. He has also recently become involved in PTSD999, a charity set up by a group of individuals with a past in either military or emergency services, and who have either suffered from or been involved with others who have had PTSD. Their remit is to offer help, advice, and confidential treatment. Andy also provided advice and training for a number of Hollywood films including Heat and, as he admitted apologetically, Pearl Harbour. Can’t win ’em all, lad. At least the technical side was good. ‘Red Notice’, a McNab book featuring the character Tom Buckingham has been made into a film, and Andy told me that ITV are currently fixing locations around the UK and Europe for the filming of the Boy Soldier books featuring the characters Danny Watts and his ex-SAS grandfather Fergus. And let’s not forget that for every copy of gaming video Battlefield 3 sold, Andy collects 14 pence (as he slyly told a youngster last night, urging him to get dad to buy a copy). Fingers and pies.

As always the evening was a fascinating insight into the life of one of our ex-Special Forces operatives. It’s such a pity that there is never enough time to ask all the questions that people long to know. Luckily, Andy’s lovely PR lady Laura passed on a number of my questions which he was kind enough to answer, so hopefully some of these will be the burning questions others would like to put to him. [Q&A coming soon in Part 2 ~GML]

Having met Andy three times now, two of the first things many people ask me is what does he look like, what’s he like as a person? I asked him how tall he is and which of Nick Stone’s ‘good bits’ of character are based on himself. With typical Puckish humour he informed me: ‘Good question. Far too good! Clearly anything that he (Nick Stone) does for the right reason is me and hopefully if you imagine him at 6 foot 5, blond hair, blue eyes, 4 foot wide, that is me.’ So there you have it, from the horse’s mouth. It’s all lies, of course.

I can confirm that he’s medium height, has salt/pepper hair, is physically fit, (which one would expect from someone who treks to the North and South Poles, and climbs in the Peruvian Andes), has blue eyes that can change from fire to ice in nanoseconds, is dripping with sex appeal and testosterone, and comes across as a chatty, friendly, and charming individual.

As a member of the audience pointed out, he’s also quite a humble man, especially when one considers his achievements. I would concur with this, but it was a curious comment as many people I’ve spoken with believe all the Special Forces men, including Andy, come across as somewhat arrogant. I suspect what many think of as arrogance is actually just a supreme confidence in their own highly developed skillset. Remember, these men train relentlessly – Train Hard / Fight Easy – and seem to live by the 7P rule – Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. While I know pretty much all there is to know about this man on the public arena, I haven’t the slightest idea what he’s like ‘for real’. Clearly, it behooves anyone in the public eye to behave with circumspection but Andy is probably the friendliest celeb I’ve met; cocky, but very down to earth and not afraid to call a spade a spade. What is particularly likeable about him is his obvious passion to promote reading and literacy: “If I can do it, anyone can.’ He’s also an incredibly good sport. Anyone who ever watched his interview with Holy Moly Man would have been itching to deck the cocky little pipsqueak conducting the interview, but Andy took all the ribbing in good part and played along nicely without once head butting aforementioned HMM.

~To be continued.
Jan

2015
12.06

Andy McNab on the latest Tom Buckingham thriller by The Oldie Magazine Recordings on Mixcloud

2015
14.05

WHSmith Blog post 6 May 2015

Andy McNab: The Ideas Behind State of Emergency

The main idea for State of Emergency, the third Tom Buckingham thriller, came from being asked to be part of a policy group for the government looking at the rise of the right wing in the military. There have been concerns for a long time that the UK should be ready for the potential of this. Other European countries, especially Germany, have experienced the right wing gaining real momentum within the military and becoming a strong force.

The danger comes when you have an extreme right wing that are militarised, and also returning extremists from places like Syria who are similarly weapons trained. Suddenly you are looking at two extreme and potentially deadly groups, ready to clash on the streets of British towns and cities. The descent into chaos and the disintegration of society that I depict in State of Emergency  is a natural follow on once we have paramilitary groups on British soil fighting each other.

The rise of the right wing is just as scary and just as much of a risk to homeland security as the returning extremists. We hear a lot in the media about the issue of these returning Jihadi fighters and tend to see them as the main threat, but this isn’t the case, both groups are dangerous in different ways, and the clash between them is potentially lethal.

If we were to see another tragic murder like that of Lee Rigby last year, we could potentially see reprisals from the militarised right wing to radicalised extremists now trained from their experiences in Syria and elsewhere and able to retaliate. No one wants to see all out war on our streets.

It was looking at these issues afresh, as part of this policy group, which made me wonder ‘what if this militarised and active right wing really did exist now, and what if there was a guy using their passion and fundamentalism for his own gain in politics?’

That is where the idea of developing the character of Vernon Rolt came from. The original idea for Rolt who I introduced in Fortress, the second Tom Buckingham novel, wasn’t as extreme. He is a right wing extremist in a suit, similar to several political figures across Europe – smart, articulate, well groomed and well educated. Rolt became a character that represented the right wing of the future, a far more sophisticated and politically influential group than the cliché of bomber jackets and skinheads. If you look at politicians such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France, you can see that the eloquent and charismatic far right politicians have been making their mark. Rolt has evolved and developed, he has got a taste for power and likes it.

At the end of Fortress, I wanted to take this idea of a passionate and militarised right wing forward. I wanted State of Emergency to look at what happened if Rolt actually DID get the power at a time when anarchy was growing and the UK was a tinderbox waiting to go one way or the other.

I found it fascinating to get under the skin of these characters with such extreme views, and to look at what might happen to society here in the UK if the politicians aren’t prepared and let opposing forces bring anarchy and violence to our streets.

Source: WHSmith website

2015
02.05

Andy is signing books again and talking about his latest Tom Buckingham novel ‘State of Emergency’.  Hope you’ll be able to attend one of these events and see if Andy’s face is really as pixelated as he likes us to think!

16 May
Andy McNab will be signing books.
WHSmith – 124-126 Victoria Centre, Nottingham
12:30 in UTC+01

17 May
Andy McNab will be signing books.
Waterstones Milton Keynes – Unit 72 Misummer Place, Milton Keynes
12:00 in UTC+01

18 May
Andy McNab will be giving a talk and signing copies of his book.
Bookmark – 20 The Crescent, Spalding Lincolnshire
19:15 in UTC+

19 May
Andy McNab will be giving a talk and signing copies of his book in conjunction with the Waterstones in Doncaster.
The event will take place at the Danum Hotel – High Street, Doncaster at 7:30pm.

20 May – afternoon
Andy McNab will be signing copies of his book.
WHSmith Newcastle – 36 Northumberland St, Newcastle
12:30 in UTC+01

20 May – evening
A talk and book signing with Andy McNab.
Guisborough Bookshop – 4 Chaloner Street, Guisborough North Yorkshire
19:00 in UTC+01

21 May
Andy McNab will be at the Loch Leven Community Library to give a talk and to sign copies of his book.
Loch Leven Community Library – Loch Leven Community Campus, Muirs Kinross
19:30 in UTC+01

22 May – afternoon
Andy McNab will be signing copies of his book.
Waterstones Stirling – Unit 1 Thistle Marches, Thistles Shopping Centre Stirling
12:30 in UTC+01

22 May- evening
Andy McNab will be giving a talk and signing copies of his book.
Crown and Mitre Hotel – Castle Street, Carlisle
19:30 in UTC+01

23 May
Andy McNab will be signing copies of his book.
Waterstones Market Harborough – 7 The Square, Market Harborough
12:00 in UTC+01

Source: Andy McNab’s official Facebook page

Andy McNab book signing in Basingstoke 2014

Andy McNab book signing in Basingstoke 2014

2015
02.04

“The Oldie Literary Lunches have become a venerable institution on the London literary scene since they were first launched in 1996. Held monthly at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, the lunches feature three speakers who each address the audience for ten minutes. A delicious three-course lunch with wine accompanies the talks.”

Andy McNab will be one of the speakers on 19 May. We do wonder if they really know who he is … inviting Andy McNab to talk ‘for ten minutes’ ??? They might want to withhold ordering the taxi home in advance. 😉

The programme:

oldies

To book tickets call Katherine or Jenny on 01225 42 73 11 (UK) between the hours of 9am and 3pm, Monday-Friday. Tickets cost £62

Source: The Oldie website

 

2015
02.04

STATE OF EMERGENCY – ‘The electric new Tom Buckingham thriller’ – will be publiced the 21st of May!

Synopsis:

3 AM on a frozen winter’s night.

A small craft skims the Thames closing in on London’s most exclusive new riverside hotel. On board is a lone assassin, his target – Britain’s most powerful new politician. In a nation threatened by extremist jihadis and torn apart by civil unrest, Vernon Rolt has just been catapulted into government on an extreme anti-terror platform.

Rolt’s plans for a zero-tolerance crackdown on ethnic violence has touched a popular nerve.  But his move into politics has made him some unlikely enemies – British ex-servicemen, once his most committed supporters who now want him dead.

Ex-SAS trooper turned MI5 operative Tom Buckingham is undercover inside Rolt’s organisation. His mission: to neutralise the rogue assassins for whom he also has become a target, and to discover the deadly intentions of Rolt’s new financier, shadowy Crimean oligarch Oleg Umarov. But all too soon, Tom gets caught up in a far more devastating plot which will change the political landscape of Europe – for ever…

State of Emergency - Tom Buckingham 3