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Woman who spent three years working in the world’s most famous Army regiment

Wary, wired and waxed: Woman who spent three years working in the world’s most famous Army regiment gives insight into the real SAS

  • Monica Lavers spent three years working with world’s famous Army regiment
  • She was one of a few women around the self-assured air men in the SAS
  • Author says most of them have had the ‘full Hollywood wax down there’ 

GEEZERS  

by Monica Lavers (Orphans £16.99, 250 pp)

One day in Hereford town centre, Monica Lavers is sitting on a bus stuck in traffic. She notices Alex, an SAS member she knows through her work at the regiment’s nearby HQ, walking with his children.

He suddenly stops, his eyes darting round until he sees her.

Later, she asks how he knew she was there: ‘I was sitting down out of the way with a crowd of people between us.’

‘Yes,’ replies Alex, ‘but I sensed I was being looked at.’

Monica Lavers who spent three years working in the world’s most famous Army regiment, has penned a book about her experience. Pictured: Special forces securing perimeter during armed conflict

Elite soldiers can never switch off the instincts instilled in them by years of training. That, as we learn in Lavers’s book about her three years working with the world’s most famous Army regiment, is both a blessing and a curse.

On duty, the ‘geezers’ (as they style themselves) are always in control. ‘I saw the SAS cold,’ writes Lavers, ‘and I saw them wrung out with sweat from arduous, backbreaking training, but they were always polite.’

They have the self-assured air of men ‘who expect people to listen to them’. But their private lives are often a mess. Long spells away from home are fatal: ‘There’s only so much pining a wife can take . . . Sadly, then come the divorces and the bubble wrap, packing tape and anger.’

As one of the few women around, Lavers is sometimes asked for advice. She tells one man whose wife has left him to let her know he wants to try again. But he refuses, scared that his wife might reject the approach. ‘It seemed extraordinary to me that a man with such courage couldn’t face the prospect of failure.’

Lavers’s first job is in the kitchen. The menu includes ‘Glasgow muesli’ (‘bacon, black pudding, eggs, fried potatoes . . .’), but by and large the geezers prefer healthy fare. Their bodies are ‘wiry’, not ‘bulging with muscles’.

GEEZERS by Monica Lavers (Orphans £16.99, 250 pp)

GEEZERS by Monica Lavers (Orphans £16.99, 250 pp)

Another surprising detail is gleaned when Lavers sees the odd man naked: most of them have had the ‘full Hollywood wax down there’. Startling — but unfortunately she gives us no explanation as to why. Hygiene? SAS initiation? I think we should be told.

But in the end, the most intriguing person in the book is Lavers herself. She gives away very little about her past. Monica Lavers is a pseudonym. The scant chronology implies she’s somewhere in her 40s.

She lives alone and she once had a high-powered career which took her round the world (no details given), and also spent 12 years working for Rupert Murdoch (again, no specifics). Careers like this, writes Lavers, sometimes end with ‘work drying up, people turning their backs on [you]’.

The suggestion seems to be that this is what happened to her.

Lavers transfers to working in the stores and forms friendships with many of the soldiers, some of which progress to them visiting her house for dinner.

Of course, this doesn’t have to mean anything beyond dinner, but I did find myself wondering whether Lavers and the men always saw things the same way.

Either way, this is a curiously interesting book — and possibly not always for reasons the author intends.

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