Last Wednesday, February 1, students at Haileybury had an unusual invitation: turn up to the Ayckbourn at 7.15pm to meet a world-famous author. The problem was that, because of security restrictions, no names could be mentioned.
In the week leading up to the event all manner of names were mentioned: J K Rowling, Dan Brown, even Salman Rushdie. The reason why it was made so secret – and why no cameras or mobile phones could be allowed into the reading – became obvious when you walked into the theatre. There on the walls were posters advertising the latest books by Andy McNab.
As Andy explained later, there are still plenty of people out there who bear big grudges against him for his time in the SAS, and he still receives death threats.
Together with fellow writer, Robert Rigby, both men spent over an hour talking about their lives, their time spent writing together, and their plans for the future. Both men took questions, and nothing was ‘off bounds’.
Andy left the British army as the most decorated soldier serving, but throughout the evening one was struck by his sense of humour and his modesty. If a reading can be judged by the amount of books sold then this was a huge success: the queue to have copies of Bravo Two Zero, as well as other editions, signed by both men, took over an hour to die down.
An heroic night!