My life as a SPY
The Australian Women's Weekly|February 2021
Former French spy Jack Beaumont knew he had to quit his job after his Australian wife found him sitting on the sofa staring at the ceiling all night. And now he’s found a new life here, he tells Sue Williams, with a novel inspired by his career and a fresh sense of peace.
Sue Williams

“My name is Bond, James Bond.” There’s little that riles Beaumont, Jack Beaumont, more than hearing the world’s best-known line from its most legendary spy. For Jack, even though that’s his fictional alias, is actually the real deal – a genuine ex-spy who made his living in the high-stakes world of international espionage, and who managed to survive the ordeal to tell the tale afterwards.

Now living in Australia, after marrying a Byron Bay woman he met while working in his native France, the former top French intelligence operative is aiming to put right a few of our most wildly accepted myths about the spy game.

“For a start, you’d never introduce yourself by your real name, or offer it so willingly,” he says. “A real James Bond would never say that. Because while he is single and has a different girlfriend each movie, the reality is that 90 per cent of us are married with kids. That’s why you would never blow your identity cover; you need to protect your family. You learn your false identity and are very strong on that name and stick by it so that no one can ever connect your real name to your wife and children.

“Intelligence services don’t generally recruit single people because the fact that you’re married is a sign of mental stability and you can inspire trust in other people by talking about your wife generally. The best lie is always 80 per cent of the truth. If you’re alone, then to deal with the pressure you might go to a bar and get drunk and start talking to someone, and that’s dangerous as you can never be sure who that person might be.”

Meeting Jack, now 45, you’d never be quite sure who he is, either. As debonair as any of the James Bonds, or even Jason Bourne – note the same initials – he’s smartly dressed in a grey suit and neat red, white and blue striped tie that’s not quite jaunty enough to be memorable, but fashionable enough not to draw attention. He’s handsome and charming in that indefinable French way, yet self-contained. You get the feeling that you’d never extract more from him than he’s prepared to tell you, even if you had more to torture him with than mere pen and paper.

You can be pretty sure of that too since he has written a novel based on his exploits, The Frenchman, a rollicking thriller about life as a secret agent in the international spying game. Although he’s at pains to stress that it is fiction, he does confess that nearly everything in the book is taken from his own life and experiences, albeit disguised.

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