As I searched for a space to park my car at the local garden centre today, I noticed two shiny, black, top-of-the-range Mercedes S Class V12 6.3 litre vehicles plus one rather sinister looking black Range Rover. All were parked in the reserved for disabled parking spaces. And alongside each car stood a minion in regulation dark glasses and sharp suit.
Of the occupants and beyond the dark privacy glass, nothing could be seen. My curiosity piqued, I wandered over and sat watching the spectacle. The self-conciously tough-looking guards eyed me and I eyed them right back. Then a rear window slid down revealing a woman in full burqa and face covering niqab. Her elegant hand extended from the interior waving an inch thick wad of new bank-wrapped fifty pound notes. Was I being propositioned into some Arabian harem of men? Given a gift of charity?
Before I could get too excited by any more wild conjecture a minion darted forward, took the cash and rushed off to the sales area of the garden shop. As quickly as it had opened, the window slid shut on those mysterious dark eyes within staring expressionlessly out at me.
I wondered who these people were, ostentatiously illegally parked with their bodyguards and flash cash. The number plates read AD1 & AD2. The minion returned carrying something big and wrapped and put it in the boot and I noted he didn't give any change back to the lady in black in the back.
Minions jumped I thought, with some relief back into the their cars and they all sped off at pace. Illegal pace it must be said, the Range Rover keeping indecently close contact with the lead Mercedes. Turns out it was the Abu Dhabi Royal family out shopping for plant pots and the Range Rover was their Diplomatic Security Escort.
What I did like however, was the fact it wasn't overdone. It was very low-key. Old ladies parked their battered old fiestas alongside the royal cars and struggled with their plant pots next to the goons in their reflective glasses. The general public wasn't pushed or held away. Would this happen in America? Would they be as relaxed? I doubt it. So apart from them parking in the disabled bays and the hovering security, it was all very 'normal'. And that's good.