Steven Price Brown, or PB as he was known to me, called me a ‘fucking cunt, Sir’ when we first met. He was feeling aggrieved as I’d just fallen on him from a great height. I can’t say I blame him. He’s now published a book of his own, The Riddle of the Waves about his descent into and recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
His platoon suffered appalling losses in Afghanistan and as advance team medic he was at the centre of the most horrific incidents. Unbeknownst to me, after leaving the forces he retreated to Africa but became increasingly ill. Diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in October 2014 he returned to the UK but ended up homeless, living in a hostel and undergoing therapy. In October 2015, he was introduced to the military sailing charity Turn to Starboard, and discovered a new love of nature and a new purpose in life.
It is commonly the case that the strongest, most dependable soldiers, those that hold the team together in times of crisis, are the ones that suffer the most and do so in silence. It was obvious to me from the start that PB was one of the strongest. I regret that, having relied on him so much, I didn’t also anticipate he might subsequently succumb to post traumatic stress.
SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.
‘Brims with authenticity and dark humour.’
Patrick Hennessey, bestselling author of The Junior Officers’ Reading Club
Doug Beattie, bestselling author of An Ordinary Soldier
Dr Mike Martin, bestselling author of An Intimate War
‘A must read.’
Richard Dorney, bestselling author of The Killing Zone
‘The best book by a soldier concerning the Afghan War that I have read’
Frank Ledwidge, bestselling author of Losing Small Wars
SOLDIER The official magazine of the British Army
‘Not just for soldiers’
William Reeve, BBC World Service and Afghanistan Correspondent