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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Secret file 04 - Alan Swann

Born on 25 September 1946.

He’s tall, dark and sanguine, with cold blue eyes, one of which was glass. When he approached me with the idea of adapting several manuscripts concerning missions of Tana Standish, his black hair sported a white streak on the left, and he had a livid thick scar down the left side of his face. He walked with a limp and had plastic surgery.  At the time of the Prague Papers (1975) he’d have been twenty-nine.


As a young communications rating Swann was as reckless as any other able seaman. However, he quickly learned he had a facility for foreign languages. He picked up Malaysian and Indonesian while stationed in HMS Terror in the Far East.

Then the sheer chance of sharing a Mercedes taxi with Keith Tyson, all the way back from a Sembawang village brothel, changed his life. He got chatting with Tyson and they found they both had a strong interest in languages. [See Secret file 05 – Keith Tyson, to be released later].

Tyson took Swann under his wing and they spent several evenings out on the town, down Bugis street, tasting the exotic foods on the street stalls and frequenting the girlie bars while avoiding the attentions of the convincing catamites and transvestites. A place with a heady atmosphere, spicy aromas and Tiger beer. 

Although Keith never mentioned the SAS, it was obvious to Swann that his new friend was secretly fighting in the Borneo conflict and had just managed to swing a brief ten days’ leave in Singapore.

As far as he could see, Swann could never hope to transfer to the SAS as they recruited from Army regiments.  There was of course the SBS, but he didn’t particularly like going to sea and travelling in Gemini landing craft didn’t appeal. He supposed that fact would have excluded him from the SAS selection, anyway.

Still, spurred on by Tyson’s example, Swann wanted to get involved in clandestine work of some description. So he studied German, Russian and French, hankering after promotion to Radio Supervisor (Special), whose tasks involved listening in to foreign radio broadcasts and messages.

He continued to excel at sport, was keen on climbing, and completed a survival course on the moors when seconded to the RAF and on his return was immediately de-briefed by Admiral Sands who worked for the Director of Naval Security (DNSy). It was at the time of an RN officer defecting – Swann’s previous Divisional Officer, in fact - and the ramifications went deep. He was interviewed with zeal; his responses and observations actually impressed the Admiral a great deal. And one of the referees he tendered happened to be Keith Tyson.

    Swann didn’t re-engage beyond his initial engagement, mainly because he was head-hunted by Sir Gerald Hazard, a friend of Admiral Sands.


On November 26, The Prague Papers are released. This book is published by Crooked Cat. It is based on a manuscript handed to me by an MI6 agent, Alan Swann. It needed some knocking into shape, as it had been a collaborative effort by a select group of agents, all intent on telling the story of Tana Standish, psychic spy, whose career spanned 1965 to 1988. They asked that her story be told as fiction.

As a result, the novel The Prague Papers is the first adventure to feature Tana Standish and is mainly set in Czechoslovakia in 1975.

Certain information was divulged in order for me to write the book; yet some has been concealed to date. This is the fourth secret file to be released ahead of the book. One other will follow.

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