High Rollers @ Glasgow

A splendidly scurrilous piece in yesterdays The Times in Scotland reminded me of a roller-coaster journey made many years ago. Seemingly Glasgow Lord Provost Eva Bolander - yes, you couldn’t really make that name up – is to be chauffeured around the city in a newish Rolls Royce.

Donated by some as-yet unnamed philanthropist, said Roller has the word “Go” emblazoned on it’s registration plate and is reputedly valued at a cool £200k. Not cheap then but seemingly not a donation which should concern the powers that be. A quick search on the DVLA website reveals nothing. Seemingly I must input the registration data in a valid format. Singer Tom Jones famously owned a similar Roller with the registration plate “T J BIG” so it’s defo not him. I tried googling The Big Yin, but I’m guessing he drives a sensible Skoda or perhaps even a custom trike.
Now, Abu Dhabi businessman Saeed Abdul Ghaffar Khouri paid a cool £7.25million for the worlds most expensive plate in far off 2008. But his Roller is Beige unlike the Glasgow donation which is a very dark shiny black.
I have news for Provost Bolander. In an early career I was paid by Glasgow Corporation to look out for the welfare of the downtrodden of the city. Easterhouse, Drumchapel and Castlemilk were my stomping grounds. Frankie Vaughan had just been and gone and the locals had been scouring B & Q for knives to hand in at the Frankie Vaughan Project. Seemingly you got a bounty for every blade. The local kids were dipping in to their mum’s cutlery drawers and the city centre stores were complaining about an epidemic of shoplifting from the kitchen-ware departments.
Now, in order to increase efficiency, us social workers were encouraged to use the Glasgow Corporation car pool. Not that we were allowed to actually drive the things you understand. They came complete with chauffeurs. Special adapted long-wheelbase Austin Princesses were in abundance and despite the green uniformed driver and the shiny black livery, they were sort of  inconspicuous. But, imagine my surprise when one day a spankingly new black Roller replete with the Lord Provost’s official flag arrived at my office to pick me up. Seemingly there was a dearth of Princesses that day – they were it seems prone to frequent drive-shaft breakages – and the Roller was all that was available.
As we approached the clients dilapidated council house in the ghetto that was then Easterhouse, I made an impassioned appeal to the uniformed driver to go around the block and let me slip out quietly. A ‘more than my jobsworth’ reply ensured that the whole street turned out to gawk as I exited the car. I never lived it down.

Duncan Harley is the author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire


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