“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.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
The real wild west
Exmouth is the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef and offers a swag of wild experiences, writes Carolyn Beasley.
PIP COURTNEY “There's not a day I don't think of John”
As the ABC’s Landline celebrates 30 years of telling the stories of rural Australians, host Pip reveals it was those same people who helped her heal in a time of overwhelming grief.
Riding the wave
Surfing may be an individual sport but when faced with overwhelming inequality, a band of renegade female champions put aside any rivalry to fight for their rights. They share their stories of battling discrimination, bigotry and even violence with Beverley Hadgraft.
Could a simple app hold the key to financial freedom? We investigate the top tech for your bucks.
Fight or flight
When hang-gliding champion Helen Ross Lee suffered a traumatic brain injury after a crash, she had to learn to walk, talk, eat and write again. She shares her story of courage, resilience and love with Alley Pascoe.
Finding “The One”
As a fortysomething woman in politics, finding a partner was tricky for Kamala Harris – until she went on a date with Doug Emhoff. In this extract from her memoir, the US Vice President goes back to the day she met the love of her life in 2013.
Kamala Harris The People's Vice President
Kamala Harris was raised to believe in a just and equal world, even if she couldn’t see it. Juliet Rieden discovers how America’s new beacon of hope rose from segregation to the second-highest office in the land.
Sylvia Jeffreys Beautiful Chaos
As she prepares to become a mother to two boys under the age of two, Sylvia Jeffreys tells Tiffany Dunk why she’s never been happier, both in life and in her marriage.
Murder In The Suburbs
After WWII, a crime wave washed through Sydney proving women killers can be just as ruthless as men. Sue Williams investigates a new book that uncovers the wives who killed their husbands and other inconvenient family members with rat poison.
The Sweet Science Of Scent
Fragrance sceptic Genevieve Gannon had dismissed aromatherapy – until a lavender candle changed her sleeping habits forever and sent her on a journey of discovery.
THE ALT-CURRENCY MARTYR
BEFORE THE FEDS FEARED BITCOIN, THEY FEARED E-GOLD.
No Sleep Till ‘Sidetalk'
Two NYU host the city's best 60-second talk show.
Five Quilts for Five Sisters
We thought we knew everything about our mother
STEERING THAT IS FORGIVING
A challenge, as your o -road daringness increases, is how to keep your steering safe.
JACKIE FUCHS FREEZING FRAMES
On Thanksgiving three years ago, Fuchs received an unexpected invitation to Philadelphia that changed her career forever. She visited the Barnes Foundation with her daughter and a friend's family and fell in love with Modigliani's work. At this point in her life, she was not working with clay anymore; She thought to herself, I wonder if I can paint? And there it all began.
William Henry Jackson's West
The great photographer influenced the Western preservation movement and the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872.
IN MEMORIAM - Leslie West
Ten months before Mountain’s Top 40 debut with the powerful “Mississippi Queen,” the band performed “For Yasgur’s Farm” and eight more songs at Woodstock. In our 2009 Woodstock 40th anniversary interview article, guitarist and vocalist Leslie West told Goldmine, “We were performing at the Fillmore West and Winterland in California, heard about what was going on back east, and knew we were going to it. We had to rent our own helicopter, because there was no way we were getting upstate in New York with the freeway closed. I almost fell out of the helicopter when I saw all those people. All of a sudden, in the middle of nowhere, you saw a city. It was something else. I was really nervous. When I did my guitar solo, it sounded pretty loud.
MASKS, SOCIAL DISTANCING AND SPEED: SNOWMOBILES ENJOY BOOM
The thrill of hurtling along a remote trail, coupled with Americans’ ongoing desire to get outside during the pandemic, is creating the biggest boom in more than two decades for the snowmobiling industry.
DAYS: GWEN AND LAURA FACE OFF!
Jack visits Gwen to try to get to know his daughter better, and during their chat, he slips that it was Laura who set the coverup scheme in motion years earlier.
Jud Fabian and No. 1 Florida sit atop the SEC standings following a 16-1 start to the 2020 season