On a freezing cold Friday morning outside the Stockwood Craft Museum, chosen for it's lack of images on Google Street View, I crossed the pebbled courtyard and saw him - unassuming, understated and under an umbrella - waiting on a bench: Alan Stoob, Britain's premier Nazi hunter.
Most people, when they retire, enjoy watching cranes lifting girders around on building sites and taking coach holidays to Kendal, but not Alan. After leaving Lincolnshire Police, he has been tirelessly searching for ex-Nazi fugitives at large in the home counties, but primarily in Bedfordshire. Always prepared, Alan produced a flask and offered me a cup of tea as I switched on my recorder to ask my first question.
Marc: Bedfordshire seems to be a hotspot for Nazi fugitives. What do you think the attraction is?
Alan: May I firstly say what an honour it is to be interviewed by no less august publication than the Huntington Advertiser.
Marc: Yes. I mean no! Mr. Stoob it's the Huffingto-
Alan: I believe it's down to simple logistics: travelling by boat in the dead of night from mainland Europe, (Nazis) took what used to be called the Bedpan line (now Thameslink) from Brighton to Bedford, & made a new life for themselves there. I would like to point out this is an educated guess on my part - but in such matters I am highly educated.
Marc: That is evident. Tell me more about the Psychology of Hiding...
Alan: I can see you've been reading my website. I'm impressed!
Marc: I have. The music is... hypnotic.
Alan: Haden (Alan's grandson and administrator of his website) chose that. It doesn't mean anything to me. Glenn Miller is more my thing, though I do rather like Slipknot. The psychology of hiding is all about putting yourself in the position of the hidee; e.g. 'what would the hidee do now?' for instance. Right down to which corner of the room. It takes practice though. I'm 75. You can print that.
Alan: I misused the word 'hidee' before. Please scrap that.
Alan: I am the hidee. Britain's Premier Hidee, if you like.
Marc: Yes. Mr. Stoob -
Alan: Incidentally have you noticed that if you use the word Thameslink it automatically gets retweeted?
Marc: No, I haven't. I'll try it later. Please don't tweet while I'm interviewing you. Mr. Stoob, have you ever travelled under a pseudonym?
Alan: Yes. Tom Stoob. It's my real name. But because there was another Tom Stoob in the Lincolnshire Police I became 'Alan'. When on Nazi business I always check into hotels as Michael Throat, if that helps?
Marc: Yes. About Nazi hunting. Has your life ever been put in danger?
Alan: Yes 17 times.
Mr. Stoob didn't go into any detail here, I assume because the memories were too painful. I decided to press him on his family life. His has been a turbulent romance to wife and confidant, Edame. Both have had affairs, notably Alan's clinch with Shirley Williams at the 1961 Labour Party Conference.
Marc: What does your wife think about your exploits? Is she ever fearful you won't return?
Alan: In the old days I believe she felt conflicted on this matter. Whilst I'm sure she would have missed me it would also have freed her up to continue her on-off affair with Henry Cooper that began soon after his initial bout with Mohammed Ali in 1965. However since his death in May of last year (which I must confess I didn't get too emotional about) we've been much closer - which inevitably means she gets more concerned when I go off on my little trips. Of course through a long marriage like ours we've both had our moments. I myself had an intense physical love affair with Dragon's Den's Deborah Meaden throughout the 80s.
Marc: Wow. That's... quite a revelation.
Alan: That woman knows how to kiss.
Marc: Indeed. Getting back to your marriage to Edame. How did you meet your wife?
Alan: Across a crowded newsagents.
Marc: That's very romantic. Mr. Stoob, are you familiar with the term, 'Identity Theft'?
Alan: Yes I am.
Marc: Have you noticed any unusual activity in your bank account at all?
Alan: Now you come to mention it, no.
Marc: That's good although if I were you I would speak to your grandson about using PayPal. One last question: what is your best weapon against the Nazis?
Alan: In no particular order: the truth, a loaded gun, the internet, secrets, tripwire, poisoned cheese and my intuition.
Marc: Thank you very much sir.
Alan: It's been enjoyable at times.
At that point Alan's phone rang. It was Edame, wanting to know when he'd be back with the milk.
You can find out more about Britain's Premier Nazi Hunter here.
He has embraced Twitter too here:
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