John Hanna


I have several books lined up in my mind. ONLY GOLD MATTERS was the one to escape first, like the genie in the lamp. As I touched Cecil Griffiths’ tarnished life, his hidden story materialised and expanded uncontrollably.

My life experiences are akin to an artist’s palette. I trained as a diver, before modern regulations stifled exploration and working underwater, whilst I was a young civil servant working for the Department of the Environment during the 1970s. Over the same period I restored and raced a succession of Triumph TR sports cars. To make it to 1980, when I began working on the Mary Rose, was more by luck than judgement!

Diving and racing ceased when I took over the family post office and village shop in 1988, which coincided with the arrival of our third daughter. The humour and drama involved in running the shop, which suffered more than its fair share of armed raids until it faded and closed in 2000 after 150 years trading, is a fascinating story. It is half written but was overtaken by Cecil Griffiths.

When the shop closed I became a postman in the heartlands of Luton. It was a tough job but I loved the camaraderie. It kept me very fit, which probably saved me from paralysis in 2005 when I broke my back in a car accident.

Breaking my back was one of the best things which happened to me. That might sound odd, but it forced me to slow down and made me appreciate how precious life is. I now have time to write.

I am the proverbial poacher turned gamekeeper. I have reverted to the simple life I experienced as a child and once more immerse myself in the natural world. First time round I was not so concerned with conservation and the environment, but now I do what I can to protect wildlife. It has brought me in to conflict with those who abuse it.

History is important to me and influences my writing. I am lucky to live in the same house my ancestors have lived in for nearly three hundred years. I have recently acquired one of the cars I raced thirty years ago. I hope my future writing allows me the opportunity to bring history alive.