The Daily Telegraph - Saturday
80, author and journalist
establishment, which I thought was largely corrupt and self-serving, but I liked it even less after Biafra, where the British government behaved disgracefully. I think my boyhood self would approve of my attempts to report on it. If I were talking to him now, I’d say: “Do what you think you have to do, but don’t buckle, don’t chicken out. You’ll risk poverty and worse, and occasionally you’ll be threatened, and occasionally it will appear advantageous to bow the knee. Don’t do it.”
By 40, I’d been writing novels for a few years, and my younger self might say that I wasn’t doing too badly, considering I seemed bloody broken at 30. Writing novels was the stupidest way imaginable of getting out of a jam, but The Day of the Jackal seemed to hit a nerve, and the rest, I suppose, is history.
I married at 35 and I never thought at the time that we would divorce, but 15 years later we did. The marriage did produce two fine lads, though, Stuart and Shane, who now have young children of their own. Having grandchildren is terrific. My second wife, Sandy, and I live quietly in Buckinghamshire, occasionally going to theatres in the West End, and that’s enough for me.
So, unless I go completely crazy, which I don’t intend to do, the rest of my days should be comfortable. As for the future, I may survive the next decade but I’ve no lust to be 90. I don’t know what I’d do, beyond what I’m doing nowadays, which is getting up in the morning, reading the Telegraph and the Mail and having all my prejudices reconfirmed, brewing up a cup of char and then going down the pub for lunch.
It’s a calm life, a peaceful life, and whether it will go on I don’t know, but I certainly have no mega projects. Do I have a bucket list? I think I’ve done just about all of it. Australia? Been there. How about scuba diving? Done that. Hey, look, you could go up the Rockies – been through the Rockies. Central and South America? Been there. So I don’t want to be big-headed about it, but I’ve been to all the places I want to go, I’ve done just about all the things I ever wanted to do, I’ve met all the people I really wanted to meet, I’ve seen whatever I wanted to see. The life of an old codger beckons, but I’m not upset about that at all.
Interview by Tom Ough
The Fox, Frederick Forsyth’s latest novel, is out now (Bantam Press, £20)