Pandemic gave former Dunstable and Luton policeman the push to finish his memoirs detailing 36 years on the beat

After retirement he worked as an extra in film and TV - including Silent Witness, EastEnders and War Horse

By Lynn Hughes
Monday, 24th January 2022, 12:38 am
Updated Monday, 24th January 2022, 12:40 am

A former Dunstable cop has written his first book detailing the trials and tribulations of being on the beat for 36 years,

Writing under the name John Dee for security reasons, he joined the police force in 1969, working there for 12 years, both in uniform and CID, before moving to Luton.

He finished his career in the Special Branch, in 2002.

The cover of John Dee's book

John, who still lives in Dunstable, has been writing the book, According To Law, on and off since then, but the pandemic finally gave him the excuse to finish it.

"I've always wanted to write a book and it was mainly written for my kids and the family, but they suggested I should publish it.

"It was hard, it's taken me about 4/5 years altogether and I probably wouldn't have finished it if it wasn't for the pandemic."

John details how he had wanted to be a cop since he was 10 years old, and joined the force after passing the national entrance exam. After working in Dunstable, he moved to Luton and then into Special Branch, with a career covering drug dealers, professional burglars, armed robbery and state terrorism.

After retiring at 55 he became a part-time civilian investigator and a film and television extra. One part was playing the father of Emilia Fox in Silent Witness - but as a corpse!

He was also an extra in the film War Horse, which was partly filmed at Luton Hoo, and has been in EastEnders and other TV shows.

John is giving the proceeds from his book to cancer research after having two brushes with the disease himself.

He said: "In 2008, doctors found a large mass blocking my bowel which turned out to be a stage three cancerous tumour, but the amazing National Health Service, not for the first time, came through for me and I was able to continue my life as before, albeit with a different perspective.

"The days became more valuable than they were pre-cancer, time with my family was a priority and bird song and sunshine were properly appreciated. I still wanted to write the book but I knew it would be a lengthy process requiring plenty of commitment and patience. Not knowing if my cancer would return, I resolved to enjoy life as much as possible and to revisit the book project at a later time.

"In 2011, I was told I had leukaemia. Not curable they said, but hopefully manageable. So, once more going through the stages of shock, fear and then acceptance of an uncertain future, the NHS cavalry came again to my rescue. Although on tablet chemotherapy, presumably for life, I am fortunate to have few side effects and I’m able to continue a relatively normal existence. Family, bird song and sunshine really are what life is about.

"I thought once more about the book but again it was going to be a balance between allocating the time it needed against all that was happening in the aftermath of my illnesses as well as trying to maintain a happy and healthy family life. So it stayed on the back burner."

In 2017 however John was diagnosed with age related macular degeneration in both eyes, so got to work on his book again in earnest, with the help of visual aids attached to his laptop.

He said: "Then the world changed. Struck by the horror of Covid-19 and being one of the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ group, the ensuing lockdown for me – and my wife of course – was immediate and sustained. As with many, the sudden change to our freedom and lives was devastating and adjustment was slow and tough.

"However, with the unexpected amount of spare time available, I was able to concentrate almost exclusively on the writing of the book..

"My own survival is much to do with the love and unending support of my wife Lynda and our two children, Mark and Julie. That support, together with the timely intervention of the NHS, still the finest health care system in the world, has been my saviour in every sense of the word."

John's book, According To Law, is now available on Amazon.