I’M ORIGINALLY from North West London and attended Pinner County Grammar School, where I was a year above Simon Le Bon and about seven or eight behind Elton John.

I played in a school band and we put an advert out within the school for a new singer to support our female lead singer.

This rather overweight boy who couldn’t play guitar was the only one that applied, and that was Simon. I’m ashamed to say we knocked him back. What a mistake that was.

As a teenager I got into riding motorbikes and it’s an interest that has stayed with me throughout my life.

It was my childhood ambition to become an army officer and in 1975 I served a three-year short service commission in the Royal Artillery.

At the time, apart from Northern Ireland, soldiering was essentially preparing for the Cold War threat of a Russian invasion which never came.

My dream of becoming a soldier was unfortunately dashed on the altar of reality when I discovered that it was essentially a job where you played at being soldiers more than anything else.

I ended up leaving after my three years and joined the Met in 1978, where I started as a uniformed bobby posted to Albany Street, just on the edge of Regent’s Park.

I was put onto a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) crime squad at Kentish Town, which was the larger division.

In 1980, the year of the siege on the Iranian embassy, I acted as a runner for the SAS when they were camped in Regent’s Park barracks and delivered food and messages for them.

Two years later, I was doing a routine traffic stop in Camden Town when the bomb went off in Regent’s’ Park.

London being the way it is, sounds echo, and it sounded like tons of scaffolding crashing down into a street. We had no sense of direction.

We started listening to the 999 calls start to come in and coppers being coppers you always run to the scene. If you’re nearby, we go.

When we arrived at the bandstand, all we could do was administer first aid to those that were alive and wait for more competent ambulance crews to arrive.

After that, I stayed on CID for a little while then the lure of motorcycling got the better of me again.

I applied to become a traffic officer and became a motorcycle rider.

While I was at a new traffic unit in Euston I was given the job of doing ambulance escorts, where a car would guide an ambulance either slowly or at speed through the city.

On this particular day in April I was sent to do an ambulance escort from St James’ Square to Westminster Hospital to escort an injured police officer.

I had no idea at the time that it was a personal friend of mine, Yvonne Fletcher.

She was a close friend of my first wife and had been at my house-warming party only a few weeks prior to the day she was shot.

We did the escort, but still didn’t realise it was Yvonne until later that evening when we were watching television and her photograph came up on the news. That was a pretty awful evening.

A very grand funeral was organised for her, but I was denied permission to go because it was said I wasn’t somebody who had worked with her, and somebody needed to man the streets while all her colleagues went off to Salisbury to go to the funeral.

After a promotion I went back as a uniform inspector at Stoke Newington, which at the time was known as Fort Apache.

Prior to my promotion I was posted to Hornsey police station where I was supervised by Dave Pengelly, who was supervisor of the two PCs, Keith Blakelock and Richard Coombes, who were stabbed at the Broadwater Farm riots.

I met them both thanks to Dave, who won the George Medal for his actions at the riots.

In 1993, I was sent to a bomb threat at the London Stock Exchange with the chief inspector, a sergeant and a PC.

We were part of a cordon keeping traffic out of the centre of London.

The unfortunate result of that was although we were setting up cordon to protect the Stock Exchange, the IRA had planted the bomb at the wrong place.

They had done a warning to allow the area to be evacuated then put the lorry in front of what they thought was the Stock Exchange, but was the Baltic Exchange.

The bomb went off an awful lot closer to us than it should have done. We were covered in dust cloud, blown off our feet and when we got up, the PC was missing.

What had happened is that he’d seen somebody go through the cordon and he’d gone off after them in the direction of the Baltic Exchange.

He was lucky. He wasn’t killed but the young girl he had gone after was.

We came across the PC giving first aid to this girl. She later died.

The PC was very badly affected by that. I was fine, or at least I thought I was.

A year or two later, I was called to a suspicious death in Stoke Newington where a girl had fallen from a rooftop party, five or six floors to her death.

She wasn’t dead when we arrived. It was my job to carry out the initial investigation.

I went up to the scene of the rooftop party, and looked over the edge, but instead of seeing paramedics working on the victim I saw a vision of Yvonne Fletcher being worked on by the team in St James Square, back in 1984.

To look down and see something I absolutely knew could not be there was the weirdest of weird experiences to me.

I looked around at my colleagues thinking to myself ‘can they see what I’ve seen?’ Everyone else was carrying on as normal, and I was thinking ‘what the hell is wrong with me?’ It really shook me up. After we carried out the initial investigation, I went back to my office and burst into tears.

From that point on I started have problems, such as more flashbacks, and feelings of irritability. I also couldn’t sleep properly.

When I was 40, I was headed home from work, when I suffered what I thought was a heart attack.

It later turned out to be a panic attack.

The doctor persuaded me to see a counsellor, and I was put on anti-depressants.

She also tried to get me talking about my symptoms, experiences, dreams, and nightmares.

She suggested that I go home and write about my experiences.

She would read my notes and the following week we would talk about what I had written.

I retired from the police in 1999 with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I continued to see the counsellor until I moved to Raglan.

About six years ago, my brother said, why don’t you write that book?

Instead of writing a memoir, I thought I might be able to reach out to a larger audience if I were to write it as fiction.

I wanted to use personal experiences and real events and weave them into a story, and that’s what I did.

I self-published Wicked Game on Amazon’s Kindle Direct publishing programme in 2012, but nobody bought it.

After having it properly edited and proof-read though, I republished it on Amazon for free and it was downloaded 10,000 times.

It was a popular book amongst soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and one soldier was found reading it by the author Antony Loveless, also an ex-police officer in London who knew Yvonne.

He helped me secure a publishing deal and after having a professional editor assigned to the book, it was released in 2016 and well received.

It got shortlisted for ‘debut of the year’ at the Crime Writers Association Daggers Awards, and was Amazon’s highest-rated debut novel of 2016.

Now I’ve written a second book and I’m halfway through a third.

I’m likening it to riding a surfboard.

It’s like you’re riding this perfect wave and you really don’t know what you’re doing, but it’s bloody good fun, and you realise that at any moment you can lose your balance and fall.

As a young 17-year-old grammar school boy who failed English literature, I never would have guessed that I would ever make a living out of writing books. I’m an accidental author, in a way.