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A Modern Military Mother – Tales from the Domestic Frontline (AMMM – Tales from the Domestic Frontline)


A Modern Military Mother

Audio read by me

Immediate Response by Major Mark Hammond
Co-written by Clare Macnaughton


Immediate Response


Immediate Response



Did I mention that I made a pilot TV show?

I may have mentioned once, or perhaps a gazillion times, that I made a TV show!!! Finally, I have uploaded it to You Tube so you have no excuse but to godamn mother f*cking watch it – am I clear? *Best authoritative voice* I need to get the hits up to a billion so please can you make all your friends watch it too and maybe some people you don’t know!

I am not a domestic goddess but a domestic disaster zone!!


Psychologies Uncut

In the March edition of Psychologies magazine there is a feature called ‘Women and the Men in their Lives’. It’s includes two-thirds of a page on me and Hagar. It was conducted by the very delightful, freelance journalist, Viki Wilson. The interview has been quite heavily edited down so I have decided to blog the uncut version and then I don’t have to think of anything new to write for a snipsy bit – woo hoo!

Before you met Hagar, had you tended to have good relationships, fleeting, or disastrous?

Yes, all of the above. My relationship history didn’t follow a pattern. It was pretty much a mix of good, fleeting, and disastrous. I had sustained relationships of over a couple of years, one night stands, big mistakes, fleeting liaisons, middle of the road meetings; a very eclectic relationship experience. What was significant before I met Hagar, was that in my head I had decided that I wasn’t messing around anymore and that I did want to have a monogamous relationship. I had enough of playing the field.

What was your general romantic history and how old were you when you met him?

I was 26 when I met him. I had maybe 2 longer term relationships of a couple of years. I worked seven summer seasons, and for two of them was with the same guy, and we traveled together as well, but I asked him if he ever saw us getting married, and he said no, so I broke up with him. What’s the point of playing house with a guy, when there was so much fun to be had. I was young and enjoying myself. Until I decided I was ready to be monogamous, I was a good time girl. I have never been particularly bothered by romance. I wouldn’t put it on my list of what makes a man special is how romantic he is. If he gave me screaming orgasms, now that was more the criteria I was interested in, especially if he was good looking and made me laugh too.

I had just broken my leg on a speed boat, watching the start of the 1998 Whitbread Around The World Yacht Race just south of the Needles. I was in lust with a yachtsman, called Jan Dekker, and I had just watched him sail away into the sunset, and then about 30 minutes later, I snapped my fibula and tibia and my life just fell apart from that moment onwards. I was freelancing in PR, and was in the middle of securing a book commission. As I couldn’t walk, I had to give up my digs and ended up living in my gran’s spare room in York. My friend Tash lived in Edinburgh and she said to cheer me up that she knew this helicopter pilot, called Hagar, that she used to go out with and she would set me up on a blind date with him. It was a crazy time. Hagar, was actually a navigator flying Puma helicopters in Northern Ireland, he worked three weeks on based at RAF Aldergrove and then had one week off. He was touring Scotland on his motorbike, and Tash contacted him and he arranged to come and visit, and also agreed to have a blind date.

I was sat in Tash’s tiny kitchen, in an old Victorian terraced property, in Stockbridge with my plastered leg, resting on a chair and Hagar burst into the room, like Captain Flashheart from Blackadder, “Hello dream date,” he bombastically declared. It was very surreal. We were both really nervous. We ended up going clubbing to Poonanana’s on Frederick Street. It was a whirlwind night and when we had our first kiss in the nightclub, there was literally ‘thunder and lightening and the earth moved’. It was a profound experience.

As the relationship progressed, did he live up to your expectation of how men usually behave in relationships. For example, some women find that men are attentive and spontaneous at first, and then become less so as the relationship becomes more stable?

We were constantly separated because of the military so our courting period was conducted on the telephone, and writing to each other. It was really romantic because we yearned to be together and never could be. I think the enforced separations that military life imposes on you means that you relationship is constantly dynamic because you don’t know what is happening one minute to the next.

Our relationship has never been stable. Military life doesn’t allow you to have a stable relationship. Hagar is a hopeless romantic, much more than I am. In fact out of the two of us, I am the one who is less attentive. He wants balloons, banners, bells and whistles every time he comes back from Afghanistan but they go away so frequently (at some points 8 weeks on and 8 weeks off) that it’s the norm and I can’t fulfill those expectations. It’s not like the war hero returns anymore. I do cook him fillet steak and give him a decent bottle of red to wash it down but it can’t be a welcome home parade, apart from anything else its not good for the children. I think we have to operate as business as usual, its not fair to burden them with the stress of war. Afghanistan is just a word to them. It’s not a place. Bikini Bottom now that’s a place.

If you were to pick four or five words which sum up your relationship, what would they be and why?


Hagar and I are best friends, and immortal enemies. It keeps the relationship alive but it can be a real rollercoaster. We are opposites and that has it’s challenges. We don’t always see eye-to-eye.

If friends were to describe your relationship, how would they describe it, and would that be accurate?
Henpecked Husband
Gobby Wife

Not really. But publicly, yes. Hagar is a street angel, house devil and I am street devil, house angel. Hagar cares about what other people think and that influences his public behaviour. I am all about what I think, so I can be quite badly behaved, especially if you add alcohol.

Does Hagar live up to stereotypes about men, i.e. being untidy, watching a lot of sports, being uncommunicative?

Yes, and no. He’s not untidy but not as tidy as me. He doesn’t watch a lot of sport. He’s too busy. There’s not much down time. His job means, he has to communicate more than most because we both need to know what the other is doing and there is no routine for either of us

Finally, what have you learned about men throughout your marriage?

I have learnt that men are genetically programmed to be how they are. When I met Hagar, I sorted out his dreadful dress sense, and polished him up a bit, did my best with him and thought, ‘he’s my re-model’. When I had my son, I thought, ‘right, now you are my start from scratch. I am going to grow my own perfect man.’ 6 years down the road, he’s broken me. Men are the way they are genetically. My son will have me do for him as long as I will do for him. When I get him to do it for himself, he makes such a pigs ear of it, that its easier, quicker and simpler to do it for him. Men are genetically programmed to be self-centred. They open their eyes each morning and think ‘what do I want today, and how can I get it?’

Hagar’s Interview

What can you remember about how you met Clare and your first impressions of her?

Clare and I met in Edinburgh, when I was based in Northern Ireland. I was working a 3 weeks on, 1 week off regime, and decided to go for a road trip round Scotland, on my motorbike. As part of that trip, I wanted to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen for ages, and that included, an ex girlfriend, (my first love, who I travelled to Australia with when we were 17) called Natasha, who lived in Edinburgh. I got the ferry across, and headed on up to Edinburgh, where I met Tash (Natatsha) at her cute Colonies house in Stockbridge. We had a great evening with a few beers, and plenty of wine, and she suggested during that drunken evening that I give a friend of hers a phone call. She said this girl was called Clare, and she raced power boats for a living; but had recently broken her leg on a boat – this intrigued me as I am a bit of a petrol head after all! We spent about 2 hours on the phone, and I was hooked, I think we even agreed to get married in wetsuits (we were both into surfing and water-sports too). The upshot was that Clare agreed to bring her herself, broken leg and all, up to Edinburgh to meet up with me in a couple of days. I went on my travels and then returned to meet Clare, a couple of days later. When I arrived back at Tash’s, I walked into the room in my biker kit and saw Clare in the corner, she looked cool, but quiet and I felt pretty nervous without any drunken confidence. As soon as I arrived, Tash and her other mates went out, leaving Clare and I on out own! We got on Ok, but it was only that night when we went out clubbing (I gave her a piggyback down the stairs to the club) and I watched her being chatted up and almost molested by some drunken idiots, I thought I have to protect her and the best way to do that was to grab her and kiss her! Well it worked, the kiss was amazing and from then on I was properly hooked!
Were you romantic and spontaneous at the beginning of the relationship?

Yes – I am a romantic at heart, and what better way was there to show this, but through the medium of the mix tape. I made Clare a few (unfortunately it was the music I liked and not necessarily what she liked!) but I think she appreciated the sentiment. As I was away for 3 weeks of every month, we spent a lot of time on the phone and writing letters (the days before e-mail….) so we had to use our imagination and romance came easy with Clare. For the one week a month we spent together, we spent a lot of time in bed and the rest of the time filling our life with cool, romantic things – we definitely made the best use of our time together as we realised how precious it was and still is.

Do you feel that you do live up to some of the stereotypes about the way men and women behave towards each other in a relationship? For example, a woman nagging, a man not doing as much domestic work, a woman wanting to talk more than a man, or do you break from them?

I think we both break from type, as we are both ‘alpha’ personalities, so there is always friction over who is in charge or who should do what. That said, we both display aspects of the wrong stereotypes too. I could be described as ‘just gay enough’ in that I like interior design, and like things neat and tidy, and yet I fly military hardware for a living and am pretty macho in general! Neither of us enjoys domestic chores, in fact we need Clare to earn some serious money so we can employ a housekeeper/PA/Nanny to do the stuff we hate – but who wouldn’t want that? That said, I do hate housework and am pretty adept at finding excuses to avoid it, however Clare is equally good at seeing through them. As for women wanting to talk more than men? There are plenty of occasions where I have given Clare a damn good listening too – she loves to analyse everything and talks for Britain!

What are the main things that you’ve learned, or the ways you have changed because of your relationship with Clare?

I have learned to dress with more style and not tuck my shirt in with my trousers pulled right up – I seem to have a short body and long legs so this looked ridiculous. I think Clare believes she had saved me from the fashion demons, although now I am just pretty mainstream really.

Seriously though, I have learned to share more and that to get through life (especially as parents of 2 kiddy grenades) you need to work as a team on everything you do. We call it Team Macnaughton – cheesy, but it works. I have learned that while I may feel like I am the busiest bloke in the world, that Clare is working on several work projects, while running our house in the UK, our house in France and looking after the finances and children. Sometimes it humbles me, thinking about how capable she is. I guess I have learned that everyone works hard to be successful and that we need to work together to keep on top of things, or inevitably something slips and the house becomes a sh*thole or the finances become a nightmare.

And if you were to pick four or five words to sum up your relationship with Clare, what would they be and why?

Funny, turbulent, loving, adventurous, rewarding

Finally, if I ask you to remember a moment that sums up Clare, what moment immediately springs to mind.

Writing a book on a subject she knew very little about and it becoming a Sunday Times bestselling hardback – she is truly amazing and always exceeds my expectations of her!

Sniff, sob, sob – is that Hagar’s Oscar moment? Bless him – thanks honey!

For the published article check out page 94 (ish) of the March 2010 edition of Psychologies magazine.

For more information visit:

The Dawn of the New Decade – Happy New Year

The beginning of the new decade is the start of my new life, new ideals and new business. Talking to people at the fabulous fortieth birthday & New Years Eve party I attended last night, I discovered that people are afraid to say out loud what they want. It’s as if they don’t even dare to dream. If they do know what they want they can’t bring themselves to state it. How do you make your dreams a reality, if you don’t know what they are? How can dreams become a reality, if you don’t put them out there?

I am daring to dream. I am willing to state my intentions. I have no fear of failure because to try and not succeed is better than not trying at all. This is the dawn of the new decade and the work begins in earnest. I have lots to do and I am excited about the future. It’s a time to change and it’s a time to grow….2010 Bring it on. Happy New Year. Dare to dream. State your intentions. Ask the universe out loud. What have you got to lose?

Looking for Mrs Rabbit

For Tash, Murray, Gogs and Mr Rabbit.

Bell Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, July 1998

Dodgy was playing, ‘It’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for me,’ in the kitchen, and the tallest Cardinal I have ever met, raised his hand above us. Tash turned the cards; smoking, I wrote a note to Murray and Gogs.

Beyond the day to day rigours of futile life,
their souls are searching for the one
who is right.
In the darkness of the blackest night,
they hunt and prowl and
seek things that are out of sight.

Around every corner,
unsuspecting they lurk.
They are not cautious,
mostly drunk and bezerk.

With cocks like steel, they prowl.
At unsuspecting bunnies they growl,
poke and prod.
No one is safe from their dynamite rod.

These bunnies are naive, yet wet.
Do they know what they are about to get?
Erect and eager, they need to shunt,
their rock hard penis, in her moist, warm c*nt.

Post coital. They need to leave.
Get up and go and let her grieve.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart, it was the grog.
I thought it was you but in fact you’re a dog.”

Manifesting The Mansion

Martin Luther King said “I have a dream…”

(His dream was greater, and more altruistic, than mine! Although, I do have an altruistic dream, and that is, one day, in the UK, all childcare will be tax deductable. Watch out, whoever, is in Government, because when I have all my ducks in a row, I am coming for you with this, and it will happen.)

Anyway, back to my dream. We, currently, live in military quarters. It’s great. I have a magnificent view from my bedroom window. A coveted view, which is nearly shared with Darren Anderton, and Teddy Sheringham, or whoever is renting their mansions, down the road. We pay a fraction of the rent that they pay. However, each winter, I do spend a colossal amount of money, heating the great outdoors. I know the double glazing is a flawed, because the curtains billow when the window is closed.

We love living in quarters; rent is cheap, hubby’s commute is minutes few, I am surrounded by folk who know what it’s like to love, and loathe, your husband, and they never say ‘I don’t know how you do it?’

(By this, they are referring to the prolonged absences, sans husband, while, he either, flies into the face of certain death, or practices, at irregular hours, how to fly into the face of certain death.)

But, I am 37 years old, and husband has hit the big 40, so it’s time to summon the mansion. We, simply, can’t live in quarters forever, and, we both want to live in a gorgeous, big house, with lots of rooms and storage, with a bit of land.

We are property spotters; avid Kirsty and Phil fans. My husband is in love with Sarah Beeney, partly because of her incredibly impressive rack, but, also, because of her dulcet tones, which lull him (and me a bit, but not quite as much) into yearning for property ownership and re-development.

We watch her show, with our head in our hands, screaming to the tv, ‘why don’t you listen to her you crazy fools!’. (Why do they never listen to her? It is a genuine mystery. Mind you after yesterday, I received some sage advice from my literary agents, which I don’t want to take, and they are very sage indeed, so I do get it, a bit. I am still in inner conflict, so I haven’t, technically, not yet taken their advice! Plus, I might have to close the chapters, and learn the lesson. I can’t let people down.)

Dan Brown’s, The Lost Symbol brought radical change into to my life. My neighbour is working with an eccentric entrepreneur, called Harry Massey. The LA premiere of his film called The Living Matrix was about to happen.

It focuses on the principles of Noetic Science,
(Noetic sciences are explorations into the nature and potentials of consciousness using multiple ways of knowing—including intuition, feeling, reason, and the senses. Noetic sciences explore the “inner cosmos” of the mind such as consciousness, soul, spirit, and how it relates to the “outer cosmos” of the physical world.)

including, explanations from five experts in the field, all of which, had been named in Dan Brown’s latest tome. One of these experts was a writer, called Lynne Mactaggart.

A flurry of excitement ensued, and I began providing PR support for the premiere of the film. As a result of this work, I was lucky enough to meet Lynne Mactaggart, and to learn more about her wisdom and writing. She has written a book called ‘The Intention Experiment’, which was also featured in The Lost Symbol.

The basic principle of intention is, that everything starts with an idea, and then you focus on realising that idea.

This is not Aladdin. It’s not possible to rub the lamp, summon the Genie, make the wish and ‘poof’, the wish is granted. The intention has to be devised, implemented and executed. Some may call it a strategy.

However, for the intention to manifest the idea needs to be cast into the cosmos. Today, I am official and publicly manifesting the mansion, with the lots of rooms, a kitchen garden, grounds and staff. I am summoning it. I do have a plan to get it, but I am officially putting it out there, to see what happens. I am joining the intention experiment.

There are seven things on the blues skies table, to date.

(I have to be careful, so some may be cryptically described. They are still in a ‘prior to the 12 week scan’ stage of development.)

On the blue skies table is:

1.) Immediate Response by Major Mark Hammond RM DFC with Clare Macnaughton
a. Hardback to sell out
b. Paperback to be a stellar international success
c. To secure a US rights deal
d. To be made in a film, screenplay by William Burroughs, directed by Susanna White, produced by Sam Mendes, Hammond played by Daniel Craig

2.) Kristal Waters by Alice Carroll
a non fiction, Superyacht expose; a Hotel Babylon with teeth
to be picked up by Transworld

3.) Brothers by Alan Rind
(mentored by Clare Macnaughton)
‘two Islamic, British, Pakistani brothers put loyalty to the ultimate test’
to be picked up by Transworld

4.) The Penguin Conspiracy by Alex Pratt
(mentored by Clare Macnaughton)
‘two children escape their vile parents, into another dimension ruled by pirates, where the Penguins are trying take over the world’
to be picked by Bloomsbury

5.) Our fabulous online magazine to be an international and lucrative success

6.) To collectively redefine communication in the UK military

7.) To collaboratively change global consciousness to alternative health

If, all of the above, could please happen, then the Universe can you please manifest me a mansion.

In the immortal words of The Lion King…’It is time’….

(GULP!! Right..I have said it now. It’s out there. Watch this space.)

Reach For The Skies

by Clare Macnaughton

When I was 9 years old I read a book called Little Ed by Ed Tully, and from the moment I had finished it I knew that I wanted to be a writer. When I was 8 years old, we moved from the north of England to the south. I had a little typewriter and I would correspond to Toni Smith, my northern best friend, who I have known since I was 5 years old (and we are still writing to each other 30 years on but via email now) using my clumsy fingers on my clumsy machine.

As I got older my passion for writing grew but I it was always underpinned by a need to make money from it. I have never been very good at writing creatively just for the joy of self-expression. In fact, when I do such endeavours invariably the result makes my toes curl, and I hope and pray that they are never discovered. If they are, then at the very earliest, after I am dead and ideally completely dead, and not hanging around in some transitional plane having to endure the criticism, but not having the means to defend my intentions. A bit like Joe Orton’s diaries, I am sure that he never expected to have his shorthand decoded and the world to read about how often he bashed one out. In my teens I had heard that you could make £200 per Mills and Boon novel so I thought this was an ideal way of writing to formula and earning some easy cash. My friend’s mum was a Mills and Boon member and had hundreds of them, so I read a few, which was very entertaining and then began my first draft. The problem was I just couldn’t take it seriously and it always ended up as some stupid parody, full of sexual debauchery and drunken frolics that amused me, and my school chums, but didn’t really stand any chance of earning me the coveted £200.

While I was at university, my housemates and I, on rainy, cash strapped days, would pen erotic fiction stories about each of us in compromising positions with celebrities of our choice. Again, they just turned into stupid parodies, which were hilarious. The olives and the pool table were a nice touch. Anyone who has seen Priscilla Queen of the Desert will know what I mean. As I was studying a PR degree we thought it would be funny to try and sell them to men’s magazine Maxim. It was my first pitch into a features editor and it wasn’t my crowning glory. It went something along the lines of, “Hi, we have written these really funny erotic fictions stories and as Maxim is a glorified porn mag with words we thought they might be your cup of tea.” Click, as the features editor put the phone down.

After graduation I started working and was given the opportunity to work with the press photographer for Lawrie Smith’s yacht racing team, Silk Cut, who were participating in the 1998 Whitbread Round the World Race. I became privy to an inside look at these globetrotting, womanising, yachtsmen. At a summer bbq at my parents, I was introduced to a literary agent who had given up the big smoke for life in Middle Earth. I pitched the idea ‘Silk Sluts – The Inside Tale’ to her and we began the proposal writing process. The book looked like a winning combination and Silk Cut were definitely the team to watch when it came to debauched behaviour. It wasn’t long before they made the tabloid front pages when boat driver, super sexy Gordon Maguire, left his wife, and began a year-long affair with Page 3 hottie Jo Guest. However, my literary dreams were once again shattered, when I broke my leg, while watching the start of the race, onboard a speed-boat and spent the next year learning to walk again.

I next came into contact with the world of publishing when I was managing the communications programme for, British yachtsman, Mike Golding. He was competing in a yacht race called the Vendee Globe, a non-stop, circumnavigation of the world. As he approached Cape Horn his winning strategy looked like it might deliver, and so, in-conjunction with The Daily Telegraph sailing correspondent, Kate Laven, we began drafting a book proposal. She introduced me to literary agent David Luxton, from Luxton Harris ltd, and he agreed to represent Mike, with Kate Laven as the co-writer. Kate wrote a great proposal and David managed to muster some interest from publishers. Mike eventually, after a dramatic finish, secured a brilliant third place but he felt that third didn’t warrant a book so once again my brush with publishing dissipated.

However, I stayed in touch with David Luxton and kept my ear to the ground. On another gig as Communications Director of the Velux 5 Oceans, a global solo yacht race with stopovers, the sailing legend Sir Robin Knox Johnston, who in 1969 became the first man ever to successfully complete a solo circumnavigation of the globe, decided to enter. He was going to be a big media pull and was in a severely under funded campaign. In order to boost his income and on the back of a front cover of the Sunday Times magazine, it was time once again to pull in the dynamic trio of Luxton, Laven and Macnaughton. Before the proposal was even drafted we were beginning to get offers from publishers. I managed the relationship between Kate, David and RKJ, just because of the complex logistics involved with RKJ trying to co-ordinate his sailing campaign. Kate drafted a fantastic proposal and it went out to tender. There was huge interest and the book finished in a bidding war between two publishers. In the end, in a nail biting board level sign off, a six-figure advance was offered which secured the book deal for ‘Force of Nature’, with Penguin. Our editor was to be Rowland White, the author of bestselling aviation non-fiction novel, ‘Vulcan 607’. Before Kate got stuck into the writing we all went up to London to meet Rowland, I shook his hand, we chatted a little and I mentioned that I had married a Chinook pilot in the RAF. Rowland, who obviously has a keen interest in aviation, he mentioned another Chinook pilot, who was a mutual friend and it was all very jolly. I then walked away from the publishing world once more to get on with my very time-consuming day job.

After the race had finished, and Force of Nature had been published, Kate, David and I met up for a celebratory lunch at Soho House. David and I were talking and he mentioned that non-fiction military history was very much the books of the moment. He asked that if I got a sniff of a tale in this field, knowing I lived amongst the military, in a military house, as I was married to a Chinook pilot, that he wanted first refusal. I didn’t think much of it but agreed that I would only do so if I got to write it.

About six months later I was having a cup of tea in the living room of a fellow wife, who lived two doors up the street from me, and her husband, a Major in the Royal Marines, on an exchange tour with RAF, came home with a book in his hand called, In Foreign Fields by Dan Collins. He threw the book at me and said, “read that – it’s about me” alluding to a chapter in it. Her husband had earned a gallantry medal, called the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in Afghanistan, and his endeavours were described in it. I said to him that I thought that I could get him a book deal. He agreed to let me try but only because he didn’t believe that it would ever happen. I contacted David and the machinations began. We, in-conjunction, with the Major drafted the proposal and then it was submitted. Somehow it ended up in front of Rowland at Penguin. At first, he turned us down, but he did agree to a meeting to see if we could expand the story a bit further to give it more substance. At this meeting we did so, I then wrote a sample chapter, and it was with great jubilation that I received a call from David to say that we had an offer from Penguin.

The contract was signed and I was the co-writer. I couldn’t believe that finally my dream to write a book was finally going to come to fruition. Then I found out that I was pregnant and we were being posted to Dorset. Penguin gave me a deadline of March 1st, this gave me time to grow the baby, move, have the baby, get the baby to nursery age and then have 6 months to research and write the book. No problem. Thankfully, the world had invented Skype and I was very resourceful. On the 1st January 2009 I declared myself teetotal until handover and began my writing marathon. Against all odds, and under some pretty extreme endurance writing sessions, ‘Immediate Response’ by Major Mark Hammond was drafted.

After a series of edits and a faff with the MOD, it was released on the 6th August. In it’s second week of sales it debuted in The Sunday Times bestseller non-fiction chart, at number 9, making it an official bestseller. The next job for me is now to publish a book in my own name. I am working on a non-fiction look at life onboard a superyacht, through the eyes of a stewardess. It’s going to be like Hotel Babylon but with teeth and I am loving every minute of it. It is a comedy noir and I guarantee it will be a page turner. However, I am currently still looking for a publisher to agree to take it on so watch this space. One day my dream will come true and I am not going to give up trying.

Immediate Response by Major Mark Hammond DFC RM with Clare Macnaughton Michael Josesph 2009 ISBN 0718154746