Welcome to Tam Paton's weird world

TAM PATON has carefully lowered himself on to a massive red leather couch in his opulently decorated sitting room, chunky gold and diamond jewellery dripping from his right hand, his suit trousers creeping up to reveal thick grey sports socks worn with his smartly polished shoes.

"Herman!", he calls towards the kitchen of his secluded home on the outskirts of the city. "Tea please!"

Herman, a strapping young man with a frown, appears at the one-time Bay City Rollers' manager's side to take his order then shuffles back to a dimly lit kitchen where two other young men are chatting.

"Herman's been here for a while," explains Paton, the jewellery rattling on his wrist.

"He walks my dogs for me. There's Blockie, he does all the electrical work around the house and the garden. Spam's been here for nine years, he loves it because he gets to drive my Range Rover."

One of Paton's four dogs - he has two Rottweilers and two Staffordshire bull terriers - has already been ushered out of sight, no longer snarling and growling, it has settled in Paton's gloomy "den", beside the kitchen: a shadowy corner lined with photos of Paton in his prime; at the controls of an aircraft, in a white suit in Jamaica, posing with Lulu.

There's a wall of photographs of his family, others of the Bay City Rollers, shelves groan with CDs, a cabinet heaves with odd-shaped bottles of sugary liqueurs and a TV - one of many massive ones dotted around the house - blares.

Outside in the hall, where a statuette of Jesus sits on a narrow table alongside a small forgotten tinsel Christmas tree, a faint whiff of cannabis lingers in the stale air.

Herman delivers tea and Paton breaks off from pointing out two 1000 chandeliers dangling from his sitting room ceiling to explain his bizarre living arrangements with his entourage of young men, his recent drugs fine, his bizarre attempt at killing himself by choking on a 1 coin and why he believes he has become one of Scotland's most loathed characters.

Indeed, Paton is acutely aware that he doesn't have many fans outwith what he calls "the inner circle."

"I've been spat at in the street," the bragging gone now, his mood more desolate. "I go to the supermarket and people walk into doors they are so busy staring at me, they trip over trolleys. It's because I'm a peculiarity, I'm not the normal and I don't live the normal life. I was never meant to be normal.

"I went to a restaurant recently," he continues. "The owner came up and asked 'Are you Tam Paton? Then you'll have to leave, we don't want your type in here. Leave immediately'. That hurts me, it really does. I'm being judged by people, who are they to judge? One lad, he was beaten up, nearly lost an eye and I paid him to do some paintings. He got an art show in Lochgelly and he put my name forward as a guest. As soon as the organisers saw my name," he adopts a whining posh tone, "Oh no! We can't have him there. He is forbidden!'" he spits. "I went with Spam to hospital the other day and he told me one of the staff said 'he's not my favourite person'. That upset me."

Paton, a clever manipulator who duped a generation of Rollers fans into believing they performed on their early records and preferred a glass of milk to sex and drugs, has been further upset by the legal action that has hung over him since police raided his home in 2003 and discovered nearly 26,000 worth of cannabis.

The case came to a head earlier this week when he was fined 20,000 after admitting being concerned in the supply of cannabis at his Little Kellerstain home off Gogar Station Road. Confiscation proceedings to seize crime profits, however, resulted in him handing over 180,000 - significantly more than the value of the drug police recovered.

Still, Paton insists he's no drugs baron, that the six kilos of cannabis was simply for residents at his home to share, that his 8 million property empire is the result of shrewd purchasing in the early 80s, income from housing homeless people and nothing to do with drugs.

"I was raided five times, they got lucky twice," he shrugs. "I'm not going to sit here and say I think cannabis is good. I know the effects it can have, paranoia, schizophrenia.

"I have always taken my cannabis in yoghurt, I have high blood pressure, it calms it down to the extent I sit and watch Mickey Mouse and think it's hilarious."

Paton's links with drugs have hardly helped his image, yet he argues it was his conviction 25 years ago for gross indecency involving two teenagers - one 16, the other 17 - leading to three years in jail that has forever tarnished him in the eyes of the public.

He argues that he is a victim of outdated attitudes, of a sustained media campaign against him and former friends who have lied about him. Ex-Roller Pat McGlynn's claims he attempted to rape him are dismissed as an attempt at publicity for bandmate Les McKeown's autobiography which were never investigated.

"I was arrested in 1979 for gross indecency, a crime that ten years later didn't even exist," he moans. "These were laddies in their late teens and the age of consent at the time was 21. They didn't want to make a complaint against me, they were made to. Then a word entered our language: paedophile.

"What people don't know they make up. They see this guy, he's got money and jewellery," he continues, waving his diamond-encrusted hands, "and they think 'what's the worst thing in the world we can call him'."

BEING arrested as part of the investigation into shamed pop guru Jonathan King's liaisons with teenage boys didn't help. Again he wasn't charged, yet Paton was aware how his arrest would be viewed.

"I tried to commit suicide," he recalls. "I was held in a cell in Berwick, left on a concrete slab.

"They asked me if I had sex with my nephew because I had pictures of him. Of course I have pictures, he's my sister's son! They left me in this cell and I had a 1 coin in my pocket. I thought I can't go through this again, people believing I'm some kind of freak. I tried to choke myself, to lodge the coin in my throat.

"I was thinking about my mother and my father. My family reading all this crap. I tried to do it, but I got scared."

The doorbell chimes regularly with visitors coming and going, congregating in the kitchen just off a tiled leisure suite lit with a dour red glow.

Paton calls to one young man with a shaved head to remove a soggy, smelly rug from the floor before proudly showing off the plunge pool, a massive hot tub, a sauna and an exercise area with treadmill, step machine and numerous sets of scales. He's delighted he has managed to lose six stones - "being told you will die unless you lose weight is a great motivator" - and he's now waiting for a heart valve operation which, despite his millionaire status, will be provided on the NHS.

There is, however, a dilemma. Paton's mood swings again as he reveals he is a vegetarian, an animal lover who can't face the suggestion that his heart valve might be replaced by a pig's. "I can't do it," he squirms. "I can't have an animal die to save me. It's not right."

Two heart attacks and a stroke, and 69-year-old Paton has made arrangements, just in case. When his time comes, his property empire, TDP Investments, will be taken over by trustees and Paton will be cremated to Bing Crosby singing That's The Way Life Is.

He fully expects baying crowds to push his coffin through the crematorium doors, cheering.

His lawyer has drawn up his will, cash for various animal charities - the Canine Defence League, something for the dog and cat home at Seafield, a bit for the children's hospice at Kinross. "It'll be then that people will turn around and say, 'oh he was OK after all, he wasn't the dirty old bugger that we thought he was'," he chuckles.

Still, there's no escaping his bizarre living arrangements. The young men, none seems older than 30, sleep in four bedrooms lining the corridor leading to Paton's cluttered master bedroom.

"People phone and say can you accommodate someone," says Paton. "There's Chris, he's 29, married, five of a family. He was into heroin, he's on detox now. His mother and his wife didn't want anything to do with him. I fill that gap."

Herman, it transpires, wanders around talking to himself. Spam has the boyish looks of a teenager and arrived after falling out with his parents. "If they weren't here, I'd be sitting here going 'tum de tum de tum, what are you going to do tonight then Tam?' I can be a lonely animal at times.

"I tell these lads to have a shave or get cleaned up. Maybe they are living off me but I don't want to be rattling around in this house all by myself," says Paton.

He shuffles outside to lean on one of two garish lion statues guarding the front door. The walls around the house are swathed

with creepers and barbed wire, soon a steel shutter will roll over the front entrance. It's to keep him safe, he explains, after three attempts on his life, one of which only ended when he pulled an imitation Smith and Wesson on his machete-wielding attacker and held it to his head. Perhaps he is right to be so security conscious - three men have been arrested and charged following a robbery at his home last October.

Back inside the house one young man is busy preparing dinner. Paton, despite the diet, is looking forward to it.

"It's steak and chips," he says gleefully, suddenly forgetful that he's a supposed to be vegetarian.

In the garden behind him, a couple of white doves have somehow escaped from his packed aviary where they are usually kept secure behind wire.

"They shouldn't be out," mutters Paton, narrowing his eyes to watch as they sweep over his lawn. "A lot of birds of prey around here. They might get them."