This morning I sat down to breakfast with an old friend. We enjoyed square sausage and potato scones. He is rather keen on his blended tea between the hours of 6 and 10am. After that, anything goes. I upset him once over a spilled drink in the school playground a long time ago. He whispered in my ear that he had wired my calculator to an explosive device.
I wasn't sure, but I refused to count on it.
On the outside looking in, the big ugly Glaswegian who is often seen tinkering in the front garden with his trellis fences and flowers probably doesn't live the kind of life from which you expect
scandal to bloom. On an ordinary weekday in his middle-class village he is
often found to be chatting with the postman, walking the dogs and occasionally hosting dinner parties of which he prepares the food himself for those closest to him.
But suddenly this week, at the age of nearly 50, his past may have caught up with him and he
must now cope with the possible devastating effects of a darker time that has resurfaced after 20
Last week, a piece appeared in a Scottish newspaper identifying him amongst others as being a former money lender from the notorious Blackhill area of Glasgow. Over twenty years ago as a young man in Provanmill he and a friend had been involved in collecting monies owed and frequently dealing out punishments to people who took money from other such lenders. At 25 he was detained on remand at Her Majesty's pleasure in a very grim place indeed. He was
released five and a half months later after he was acquitted of all charges and has gone on to form a
new life and career, most notably as a successful builder. Never has he glorified or boasted about his former life. The stories about the scars to his face have always been assumed, never confirmed.
"I've done my best to put it out of my mind," he says. "Once you have
admitted you are at fault, and I was, you have said 'I'm sorry, I'm utterly, totally sorry',
without excuse, and paid your price, then you have to put it behind you."
The effect on this mans life after this disclosure of his past life
could have been damaging. His wife is a pillar of the local community and a long-serving
member of the Scottish Law Society. Intelligent, happily married, dignified, she would obviously
have relied on her strength and Irish humour under normal circumstances. However, satisfied that her husband of 24 years has buried his past, she is concentrating on holding on to the fact that although sleeping dogs do occasionally wake, this latest juicy new bone is in fact old and with not enough meat for his friends to make a meal of.
In the past, the bitterness and bigotry at this mans past has been a decider in the multiple blogs that have sprung up decrying him and his family for what happened a long time ago.
Not anymore. This time he will stand his ground and be the solid brick wall he was in his youth. These days his good deeds far outweigh the bad. It is time to stand up and say enough!
Besides, who really knows what secret fertiliser he uses to grow his fabulous roses....