REMEMBER Thelma and Louise, in which two bodacious dames with nothing to lose pile into a 1966 Thunderbird convertible and drive off into the sunset?
I had a similar adventure last weekend. They went from Oklahoma to Mexico via Brad Pitt and the baking desert. We went from Thornwood to Giffnock via Glasgow Bridge. In a Volkswagen Golf.
Thelma and myself could not have been more excited had we seen the bold Brad hitching a lift at the bottom of Dumbarton Road. We go to Edinburgh more often than the South Side. “Don’t worry,” she announced, buckling herself in firmly. “I’ve brought the Kendal mint cake.”
First stop was a swishy healthy-local-green food emporium recently opened by an American company. Word had drifted across the Clyde of outlandish prices and customers who make Kim Kardashian look grungy. We followed the trail of Audis and BMWs to the car park. Sure enough, the entrance was obstructed by two women in ultra-WAG tracksuits and sporting this-season Miu Miu handbags, gingerly loading their Range Rover with a week’s worth of right-on groceries while keeping their nails intact.
Inside there were, as predicted, many more of the kind of lady Mr Burnside describes as “driving up and down the Fenwick Road, looking for new things to which to become allergic”. But the prices were not as ‘out there’ as rumour suggested. The eggs and cavolo nero compared favourably to those on sale in my own arrondissement. Thelma began palpitating at a shelf of Tartex paté, a vegetarian sludge she assures me has become as hard to find as flattering yellow hotpants. Luckily a charming young man was on hand with free samples of a calming bio-dynamic chardonnay.
Lunch came in those American brown folding cartons that make the humblest quinoa salad feel like a prop from Friends. To avoid the eat-in surcharge, we buttoned up our coats and took it on the outdoor benches. A travelling rug would have been welcome but the coffee was hot and the portions generous. Thelma, not noted for her dainty appetite, could only manage one of her goat’s cheese hockey pucks and a fraction of her roast veggies. No similar issues for me.
Thelma had heard of a warehouse in Barrhead where Ercol chairs and G-Plan dining room tables cost £3 each. Getting there involved a complicated cross-country journey through abandoned industrial estate, past plangent social club. At one point she looked over at me nervously. “Are we,” she asked, “in the past?”
Our navigator, young Tom-Tom, got us there in one piece. Thelma had been cruelly misled about the mid-century furniture bargains but we had a very enjoyable rummage through the pouffy grey leather sofas and flowery casserole dishes. I picked up a couple of paperbacks and took them to the counter. “Choose another one, hen,” the sturdy chap behind the counter urged. “They’re 25p each or three for a pound.”
Thelma was paying for her melamine egg cups – 5p each – when I spotted an unremarkable brown item bearing the legend “cocktail cabinet”. Sure enough, beneath its dowdy varnish job was a mirrored interior with groovy cocktail sticks and lemon squeezer still intact. The cupboard area below had enough bottle space for Dean Martin. Thelma’s face lit up. Would it fit in the car? I reckoned so. Did we have £70 in cash? No. We scrabbled up £60 and the deal was done.
Tom-Tom took us north through dreary, unfamiliar streets. Our last stop, a knit-your-own-robot fair in a converted church, yielded few treasures but did have a special offer on sparkling rosé. We toasted our most excellent day out. Thelma, unburdened by driving licence, took full advantage of the hospitality.
Heading back across the Kingston Bridge, the west of the city glittered in the early evening sun. Then it dawned that we were returning to a second floor flat with a heavy, fragile cocktail cabinet. Thelma was squelching with high-octane Vimto. I was wearing wedges. And not a big strong man (never mind Brad in his cowboy hat) in sight. I should have kept on driving.