On a miserably rainy June afternoon we left our hotel to pay our respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and take advantage of the spa facilities provided.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Spa was the brainchild of ex-SAS officer Andy McSnab.
After years of service to his country including leading the fight for Duck Hill in the great Falklands War, Andy won several distinctions. Sadly, Andy was injured on a secret mission deep inside Bradford, UK, where he unfortunately slipped and fell down a staircase.
As a trained professional, Andy wasn’t going to let a small amputation stand in his way and after six years of rehab and counselling relocated to the the Languedoc Roussillon region in southern France.
Choosing the small town of Beziers as his base, he began work rebuilding his life. The old adage do what you know kept reverberation in his head. Andy decided to build a war memorial for soldiers who were killed in action, place and time of death unknown, soldiers who had just disappeared even after an AWOL amnesty.
Employing the local talents Andy managed to build a giant wood and papier mache statue of a naked woman, holding a sword on the hood of an amphibious lander.
But how to attract visitors?
During Andy’s service he had become expert at applying war paint to disguise himself. Once he disguised himself as a lamp-post in North Korea and was only found out when his light was the only one shining.
Another time he pretended to be an old man and penetrated a Bolivian junior school, he was again found out and despite his protestations he had to serve six months in prison and was added to a register.
He laughs about it now and his incredible talent for disguise led him to a makeup and hair-treatment course. This snowballed into courses and certificates into a full body-care course and finally he earned a degree from Thailand’s famous Happy Ending Massage parlor.
Andy bought a property near the war memorial, calling it the The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Spa and started to attract locals, then out-of-towners and finally his fame spread enough to attract tourists.
The prices are very reasonable. Thai and Filipino workers were brought in to provide authentic services to supply much value for the money. Cleverly, Andy has woven in the unknown soldier theme to the spa. The all -female staff wear tight army fatigues, the decor is camouflage and Andy has even incorporated a shooting range called the money shot.
Each massage room is themed. We tried the Disney room called ‘happy endings (guaranteed)’, which, considering the skills the spa’s staff display is tremendous value for money.
Naturally Asian girls dressed in army fatigues providing massage services has attracted some suspicion in a country plagued by racial tensions and more than a spoonful of terrorism.
The French Tourist Protection Agency (AFPT), made up of volunteers funded by tourists who are asked to pay for protection, recently ‘investigated’ Andy’s business. They came in the middle of the night, Andy recalls, banging on the door accusing us of assembling an armed militia and radicalizing our patrons. An hour with Mai Su calmed them right down. She’s very versatile and now AFTP members are regulars to the ‘happy ending’ room.
Andy kicks back in his favorite armchair, lifts his leg onto the back of his wife Sung Tzhi, and stares into the distant Pyrenees.
“I feel my life is complete,” he boasts, “Once I lay it all the line for Queen and country, I’ve done some shit in my time I can tell you, and now I make money through educational seminars on combining war and spa days.”
Editor’s note: Since writing this article Andy was arrested for failing to report to his unit, entering France illegally, faking an amputation and running an illegal brothel. He was also charged with bringing the military into disrepute, shaming the name of unknown French soldiers, making frequent visits to the local junior school, offering extra-curricular lessons in massage and building a nine-foot pornographic representation of a very anatomically-incorrect woman whose correct height should have been 22 feet to support her assets.