Frank Gardner: ‘I changed after I was shot’

The journalist told The Big Issue how he adjusted to life after Riyadh

Legendary journalist and author Frank Gardner was shot six times at close range. And survived. In A Letter To My Younger Self, the 57-year-old told The Big Issue how the experience impacted him.

In 2004, Gardner was caught up in an attack by al-Qaida gunmen in Saudi capital Riyadh.

“I’ve changed since the first few months after I was shot,” he said. “I was seven months in hospital, I had 14 surgical operations. I was shot to pieces.

“That was a low time. I just thought, well that’s it. Life as I know it is over.

But, the BBC security correspondent added, that was nonsense. He was exhausted when he finally left hospital, wrung out by months of intrusive surgeries.

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“But I worked really hard in the gym and I started to get my strength back,” he said. “And I found there’s something oddly liberating about a near-death experience. I just stopped sweating the small stuff.”

Gardner never thought he would be in a wheelchair and “tries to ignore it”. It doesn’t stop him getting involved with things he likes and he still goes scuba diving and skiing.

“The wheelchair is just a platform to whizz me around,” he said. “But sometimes I see pictures of myself and I realise that’s what I must look like to other people. Because I look out of myself, not at myself.

“So when I see a photograph I think, God, that’s me in a wheelchair. How weird. I just can’t see myself that way.”

Read the full interview in this week’s Big Issue, available from your local vendor until Sunday.