Former SAS operative turned best-selling author, Chris Ryan, has revealed the one thing he’s scared of.
Being a member of one of the world’s most elite task forces, means you’re prepared for any eventuality or outcome, even under the most strenuous of situations.
For Ryan the sentiment remains true, but having left the special operations unit he has explained being prepared does not mean you don’t feel fear.
It may surprise some people but Ryan’s biggest fear is being in a room full of adoring fans and signing books.
There is, however, an entirely rational explanation behind it, something which Ryan puts down to his years of specialised training in the military and SAS.
Speaking to The Mirror, Ryan explained:
I still can’t get over book signings. They are so alien to anything I would do. I’m sat there with a large group of people in front of me, with my head down and all these people staring right at me and I face out towards them.
My shirt is usually soaking wet. I can only explain it that it’s like if somebody had been bitten by shark and they are thrown into a container of sharks.
With his intense training, Ryan’s mind is constantly switched on to a state of alert – a skill which is handy in areas where conflict is rife but when you’re a civilian, it can be a curse, as well as a gift.
I’ve never been comfortable. In the past I could walk down the street tooled up and no one would even be aware of me.
The last thing I want is someone to be injured while I do a book signing.
You have people coming in to have a novel signed, then you could have someone come in who has a mental illness and wants to take out a former member of the SAS. It can easily escalate into something serious.
Again, the uninformed may dismiss his emotions as paranoia, but it makes complete sense. When you’ve been deployed to war zones like Iraq, seeing the conflict Ryan has, being on guard at all times is understandably a natural instinct.
If I catch someone looking at me, I look away then I look back. I will look at their hands. If someone is too close, I will look into a shop window.
I make these assumptions, I walk down the street and I am looking 15 metres ahead.
It’s just automatically going on in the back of my head. I might be talking to a friend about the golf but I am always aware.
I’m horrified when I’m walking along and I see someone with headphones who is looking at their phone.
You could even argue it’s a natural survival instinct.
Ryan also admits the safety of his family keeps him up at night – especially the well-being of his daughter.
For all my background, I’m like any other normal father – your girl, no matter how old she is, is still your little girl.
When his daughter introduces a new boyfriend Ryan’s protective nature goes into overdrive like Robert De Niro in Meet The Parents – he does full background checks on her friends and the guys she dates – something he admits has got him in trouble with his family.
Ryan, who concedes he misses ‘the excitement, travel, danger and adrenaline’ of his old life, was the only member of his Bravo Two Zero patrol in Iraq to escape death or capture during the 1991 Gulf War – having walked 200 miles in eight days to cross over the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Three members of his squad died and another four were captured.
It was the longest escape trek made by a British soldier.
In order to survive he had to hide in culverts and swamps and had no choice but to drink contaminated water from a factory making toxic uranium, known as ‘yellowcake’.
When he came came back he was awarded the Military Medal in recognition of his service.