Guilty Pleasures

July 4, 2008

The fabulous thing about being middle class is that there’s always something new to feel guilty about. Of course, no-one wastes time feeling bad about the essentials that gave us entree into this class in the first place – the huge privileges of education, and the subsequent income that this confers, both seen as our birthright. No, we much prefer to feel guilty about going to cheap supermarkets.

First, I saw an article in the Guardian saying that it was possible to go to places like Aldi and Lidl and emerge with your accent intact. Then I heard people in Crystal Palace singing the praises of Lidl’s take on kettle chips. True Love came next, reporting the check-out man in Sainsburys had said he never shopped there himself, and much preferred Lidl. Finally, yesterday, I found myself scurrying into the Sydenham branch of Lidl, not quite with a paper bag over my head, but certainly with a backward glance and a furtive gait.

My trolley was very reluctant to disengage itself from the pack, and kept listing back towards its friends throughout our journey round the store. But this inconvenience was soon forgotten as I hoovered up the delights, starting by marvelling up at an uncompromising banner hanging over the entrance: ‘Wow, that’s cheap!’ it read. Wow, that’s …. frank, I thought. You’d never catch Mr J Sainsbury admitting his stuff was cheap. On special offer, maybe. On bogof, (buy one get one free) perhaps. But cheap? Darling, perish the thought. Sainsbury’s main aim in life is to get us to buy their ‘taste the difference’ range. Now I’ve always found this range annoying, as it only promises to be different, not better. And it’s always more expensive. What’s the point of that?

Maybe I am a Lidl girl after all, I thought, feeling like Dorothy on the yellow brick road as I snaffled up a bouquet of gorgeous coral pink roses for £1.99 (hoping True Love would think they were from my Imaginary Secret Admirer), bagged a vast mango for 37p – yes, 37p, and generally hurled stuff into the trolley as though I was on my own special version of supermarket sweep. I left the shop having forked out £40 less than usual (though perhaps that was because I just couldn’t quite like the look of any of the meat) and with my arms beautifully toned from hauling my trolley hither and thither.

And the proof of the pudding? B-who-lives-the-dream came round for a light ladies’ lunch and declared that my melon was better than hers. Did I admit its provenance? Did I hell! And I hope she hasn’t got her reading glasses on now or the cat is out of the bag. Went round to another dear friend’s for drinks and did, sheepishly, admit that my offering of salted almonds was from That Shop, as the conversation had turned to such matters. Apart from a sharp intake of breath, I think I more or less got away with it.

Of course, it won’t be possible to enjoy Lidl for long. It’ll be another Primark. One minute we’re revelling in cheap T-shirts, the next we are, quite rightly, flaying ourselves over sweatshop children in Asia. The stories will start coming out about just how they get mangoes for 37p, and then one simply won’t be able to say Wow, that’s cheap without knowing, Wow, that’s total exploitation. Until then, I think I shall keep slinking in there. Well, with so many hungry lawyers to feed, I don’t have that much choice. And I can’t resist just a Lidl bit more.

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  • Lindsay July 4, 2008 at 3:56 am

    Like what you say! I pass Lidl every Sunday when I take my 90 year old dad back to the ‘care less’ home as he calls it! I hover between Tesco and Waitrose but crept into Lidl last Sunday. Must have been a bad time – if you can read German or like a lot of tinned veg you would be OK. Slunk out. Our neighbours shop there a lot so think I will join them when the shop is better stocked.

  • Potty Mummy July 4, 2008 at 4:25 am

    Boom boom! (re: your closing sentence). No Lidl’s in SKen, I’m afraid. Will have to carry on tasting the difference between Sainsbury, Waitrose, M&S and (whisper it softly) Tesco…

  • Tarte Tartan July 4, 2008 at 4:30 am

    Oh I know what you mean. We all have our guilty Lidl secrets. I go there to get Spanish wine (oh the horror of it, living in France)and toilet roll. If you are going to make a habit out of this (and it sounds like you might), it might be worth slipping a little can of WD-40 in your bag to tame those unruly trolleys!

  • MsCatCalls July 4, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Mm I havent tried Lidl yet but I did get a fabulous car seat cover from Aldi which keeps the rescue greyhound in place and stops her sliding onto the floor when I brake sharply , hard to describe but it hooks over the front seats so she cant actually make contact with the floor and neither can any doggy debris . Quite by chance too when I forgot to get my nephew an Easter egg and was scratching about looking for an open shop at the final hurdle and it was Aldi to the rescue with all sorts of fine bargains ….
    I’m not a fan of the mango though . Great tasteless beggars .Melons now ….

  • (Very) Lost in France July 4, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    DD – OK, deep breath, my name’s VLiF and I shop at Lidl. Phew, that’s better. I discovered it a while back (the CH will not even step through the door) and have shaved enough off my food bill to have a guilt free shop in the Boden summer sale. I bought a 4-bar steam cleaner there this week and only a few weeks ago a pressure washer. Oh joy! I’ve even signed up to their e-mail alerts so that every week they send me details of that following week’s offers. Is there any hope or am I an addict? VLiF

  • rosiero July 4, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    I live and die in Lidl. I go in for one item and stagger out with a trolley-full. Often I am tempted by the non-food items such as a salad spinner or hairdryer!! (Come to think of it, perhaps the hairdryer could do the job of the salad spinner and save even more money!) What you have to think, darlink, is that a lot of Lidl food is foreign, so you are really buying delicatessen food. Keep saying that to yourself and you will slink no more, but walk head-high among the mangoes and mozarella, bratwurst and baklavas!

  • rosiero July 5, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Think too that Lidl reminds us of our time in Germany and we buy up all the old familiar things that the other supermarkets don’t stock… like herrings in cream sauce.

  • Gill - That British Woman July 5, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Look at it this way you have more money to spend on other things, and who is to know, if all your friends shop at the other overpriced stores?

    Gill from Canada :0)

  • DulwichDivorcee July 7, 2008 at 3:15 am

    Hi Lindsay, your dad sounds quite a one! No, I read no German, hence my trepidation about the book, and am not mad on tinned peaches etc, but there is an awful lot of chocolate in Lidl including delicious hazlenut wafer sticks, yum yum!

  • DulwichDivorcee July 7, 2008 at 3:16 am

    Potty Mummy, you simply must come South for a visit, we have so much to recommend besides the cheap supermarkets, er, for instance, lovely chaps in hoodies and you can get quite natty stab vests in Peckham these days I’m told ….

  • DulwichDivorcee July 7, 2008 at 3:17 am

    Spanish wine in France, TT?! You are a one. I’m surprised they haven’t drummed you out of town ….

  • DulwichDivorcee July 7, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Ms CC, you may be right about the mango, the first one I bought is still rock hard and the second one liquified and had to be chucked out so I am yet to get my 37p worth ….your greyhound sling sounds intriguing, maybe I could rig one up to keep True Love in his place?

  • DulwichDivorcee July 7, 2008 at 3:20 am

    VLiF, I am afraid there is no hope once you’ve invested in a steam cleaner …but what’s that you say, the Boden sale is on? Why didn’t Johnny tell me …right, I’m off ….

  • DulwichDivorcee July 7, 2008 at 3:21 am

    Rosiero, I like your style, I shall chant ‘deli deli deli’ as I drag my trolley round …though strangely the deli in Dulwich Village doesn’t sell hairdryers yet, an oversight I’m sure ….

  • DulwichDivorcee July 7, 2008 at 3:23 am

    Hello, Gill, lovely of you to drop in! You are so right, the more I buy the more I’m economising, and I rather think all my friends have been there before, judging from the knowing looks my delicious ready-sliced Comte cheese has been getting recently …..