I have a kind of completely useless superpower, I can see words in registration numbers that aren’t really there. I have been fascinated by registration numbers since I was a small boy and always wanted one of my own. It would be quite a difficult task as there would be very few combinations in the UK registration system that would be anything like, apparently, I was named after an Island in Wales (I have never asked why as I dread to think) and I always promised myself that if I did have a personal registration number, it would be one that would be immediately obvious to everyone, and that I wouldn’t have to modify it with number plate screws or explain to people what it said “You know if you shut your eyes and squint, replace the 8 with an R and the 7 with an E it says BARRIE C” no it doesn’t you halfwit it looks, nothing like and unless you change your name to BAR817C by deed poll you’ve wasted your cash.

Going back a few years I remember when my mate bought  #B# 7 to put on his mid-life crisis phallic symbol  sports car (# used to save his blushes) and when I pointed out that those weren’t actually his initials as he didn’t have a middle name and neither did he have 6 other cars, he said he could pretend his middle name was Brian, “Yep you could do that, or you could have saved your money!”

I attempted to buy BAR121E but it ended in disaster when I attended a DVLA auction, I had driven to a Country house in Yorkshire where it was being auctioned, it was bad enough that all the way there my phone had been ringing, and dealers whose part exchanges I had underwritten were calling to say that cars had arrived into stock, they needed paying for and picking up, my disposable cash and my registration number budget was dwindling call by call.

I had taken my best mate with me for moral support, but he had become a pain in the arse, we were sitting on the front row and I was clutching my buyer’s number, I’m not good at losing and my mate was there to make sure that the Auctioneer wasn’t ramping me up by bouncing bids off the wall (taking fictitious bids in order to drive the price up),  and that I didn’t get carried away with the bidding, he had orders to physically restrain me once the bidding had reached a pre-agreed amount. He was looking around the auction when he suddenly leaned over and whispered to me,  “Oh look at that guy with the big suitcase full of money isn’t it Prince Barrie of Saudi Arabia, the world’s richest Oil Sheikh, I wonder what he wants?”  my mate thought he was being hilarious but he was making me want to knock him out, throw caution to the wind, bid with money I didn’t have and hope I could sell a few cars before I had to pay for it.

My strategy was that I wouldn’t enter the bidding straight away, if there were any others interested I would wait till they had dropped out and it was about to be sold then if it was still within my budget  I would be left in a 2 horse race, hopefully the other person who thought he had already won would have the wind knocked out of their sails, and when I entered into the bidding they would give up without too much resistance.

It was already £2000 past my upper limit when I turned to my mate and told him unless he wanted to walk home he better shut his trap, the auctioneer announced that BAR121E was going once, going twice, he lifted his gavel for the 3rd and final time but before he brought it down again I started to bid. My plan failed miserably my bidding tactics just seemed to annoy the other bidder, and without hesitation, he outbid me every time I put my hand up, another £1500 later I dropped out, he got the plate and I skulked out to my car.

The next day I saw the Number Plate BAR121E advertised on a Registration website for 4 times the amount they had paid for it, there was no way I would be able to afford it now unless I won the lottery.

Several years later BAR121E was still for sale at the same place for £24995, and I was still annoyed that I had been outbid that day at the auction, so I got my own back by ringing the company to gloat and to try to buy it off them cheap, pointing out that  “you’ve had that plate a few years now, I’ll give you 5 Grand for it” they never accepted my offer but once I was on their database they used to ring me every few months, I was hoping to demoralise them by telling them that I had done a search, and everyone else who spelled the name BARRY my way BARRIE was on the dole, and that the car job was so bad that if they waited much longer to come down to my price I would be too, they must have done their own search and realised that I was lying, so they refused. 

A chance remark from our valeter, that he had seen another registration number BAR21E  which spelled my name perfectly, the plate would be for sale in the next DVLA Auction. I didn’t want to go through the leg-pulling that I’d had last time so I feigned disinterest, but hurried back to my portakabin and registered online, this time I wouldn’t waste my petrol and would bid on the telephone. On the day of the auction I sat watching the sale on my computer, the reg numbers were bringing a fortune and I had already resigned myself to the fact that I probably wouldn’t be able to afford it, but I had also convinced myself that the plate would be a great investment for the future, my pension fund was worth less than I had paid in, and all it needed was for the plates value to skyrocket was some young Pop Star or a Footballer with my name to make it big, or a fictional character in a Mummy Porn book to be called Barrie instead of Christian and it would be worth a fortune, I’m still clinging desperately to the hope that Kate Middleton and Prince Edward christen their firstborn Barrie, then in 18 years from now, the offsprings of the Kylie, Jason, Clint, and Chantelle’s of my generation will be old enough to drive, and hopefully at least one of them will be the equivalent of a Dot Com Billionaire and will want a reg number.

My proxy bidder called me about 5 minutes before the plate was due to be auctioned, my heart was pounding as I listened to the bidding I had waited for years for it to come on sale and I had to have it. The auction was a blur, the girl on the phone was brilliant and advised me to wait till she gave me the nod, the 2 bidders present in the Auction Hall were taking an age to outbid each other, they must have been either over their limit or very close to it, but it was nowhere near the limit I had set myself, so as soon as the second bidder waved the white flag I jumped in, 3 bids later the plate was knocked down to me at less than half the amount I was willing to pay.

I still hadn’t told my colleagues at work, and I had even made the plates in secret, when my transfer document came through a couple of weeks later, I sneaked home at lunch and fitted BAR21E to the Audi TT convertible that I was using at the time, then I waited for the first person to notice and compliment me on my new acquisition, I should have known better, the first person to notice didn’t compliment me, instead, he asked me why I had bought a number plate that said BARZIE, by the end of the day everyone was calling me Barzie, to say I was irritated was an understatement. I suppose I deserved it as another of my mates had bought the reg number M14TTS his name of course was Mat, but from that day forward I would refer to him as MLATT.

That night I went to my Mothers for tea, it was she who had chosen the name Barrie, and let’s face it, it’s not the best name in the world, there are no famous people called Barrie, every time you see someone in a TV program with my name, they’re always either a complete loser, a henpecked wimp or both, but Barrie was a whole lot better than my middle name which was Arthur, I was also named after her Father, I hate the name Arthur and  I have never forgiven her for that. I spent years at school denying to my friends that my middle name was actually Arthur, I even went as far as altering my name in the teacher’s registers.

I asked my Mum to look out of the window and see if she noticed anything different about my car, she didn’t, so I drew her attention to my new registration plate and she replied. “Oh yes that’s very good, but I thought you didn’t like being called Arthur”  WHAT?,  What do you mean Arthur? Where do get ARTHUR from you silly old bat!,  That clearly says BARRIE, if that 2 was an R it would be a perfect spelling.

 As I was dialing the nursing home she said she was very sorry, and went on to explain that in her eyes my plate said “B Artie” Artie was what my Grandad’s mates called him, and it was short for Arthur!

I wondered if it was too late to get my money back for my Registration Plate, and use it to have my Mum committed.