These were the words Mandy exclaimed as we sped off in the car to the sound of The Beatles’ Come Together, the first track on their Abbey Road album.
It was one late Saturday afternoon in 1972. I’d met Mandy at a dance the previous Saturday and were now on our way for our first date: a meal in Edinburgh. I parked the car at the back of the castle from where we then proceeded to stroll hand in hand down the Royal Mile in search of a restaurant. This was a new experience for me. I’d never been to a restaurant before never mind taken a girl to one. There weren’t any on the Mile so we turned into South Bridge. Same thing. It wasn’t until we reached Nicholson Street that we came upon some restaurants. It was then that my eyes were opened to the reality of the experience. By the time of the third or fourth restaurant window I had already become acquainted with scrutinising the prices rather than the dishes on offer, leaving that part to Mandy. She read out the names of those that tempted her palate while I silently read the cost that threatened my wallet. You see, like many teenagers who had still to learn the value of money I had already spent the bulk of my finances that Saturday morning on yet another batch of pop records. I had not realised that eating out would be so expensive. I still thought in terms of milk bar or fish and chip shop prices. The only thing I was gulping down as we browsed those menus was the shock of the prices. I started making excuses: ‘Er, I’ve heard that this restaurant charges you for water.’ ‘Ugh, I don’t like Indian food; you never can tell what you’re eating.’ ‘Huh, stag’s breath? What’s that all about?’ By the time we reached the end of the long street we had exhausted all the restaurants. Mandy was hungry; I was panicking; I needed to think fast. Suddenly I was struck with a great idea that gave me the opportunity to sound cultured. ‘I know, let’s go to the Commonwealth swimming pool. They serve meals next to the diving pool. We can sit and watch people dive in while we’re eating.’ Hardly a romantic setting but it was worth a shot. Mandy, by this time weary, simply shrugged. Phew!
The eating area resembled a large works’ canteen furnished with plastic chairs and tables. The place was mobbed mostly with people who had just come out of the pool thus there was wet hair and rolled up towels everywhere. There was a distinct scent of chlorine in the air too. It was also noisy, a mixture of echoing screaming from the pool and chatter all round. We managed to find a table next to the large window that gave us a good view of the diving boards. Mandy, looking somewhat bewildered, left it to me to choose the meals. I joined the lengthy queue, noticing that the glass cabinets were fast emptying of food as the queue moved slowly along. Eventually, I returned to the table where Mandy was leaning on her elbows her chin resting on one palm as she watched the high divers.. ‘Here we are,’ I announced. She turned to view the anticipated feast. ‘One strawberry yogurt for you; a cherry one for me. One coke for you; a Pepsi for me,’ I continued as I placed each item before us then dumped the tray to one side. ‘Tuck in.’
We left a short time later but no longer holding hands. We headed back to the car then drove, largely in silence, the thirty odd miles back to her home in Stirling. Following mutually muttered half-hearted cheerios – which I instinctively knew were farewells – I pressed the button on the cassette player and sped off home to the mocking chorus of ‘Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer came down on his head…’ A mallet would have been more appropriate.