Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living
My horror story: a nightmare in Lidl's car park
Saturday 27 May 2006
MY FRIEND LAURA, the Thrift Queen, threw a party this weekend. The theme was Russia, which I took on board with aplomb, dressing as the Spirit of the International Worker, honouring those post-Revolution stone giantesses in the middle of Russian cities.
I dug out a denim headscarf, and found a denim dress with puffed sleeves and a round neckline. It was from Prada, rather than GUM (the one-stop megastore in Red Square), but since Moscow is in hypnotic thrall to high-fashion brands at the moment, I didn't think that was unduly incongruous. Forget Pravda. Get into Prada.
To this mix, I added a pair of Chanel shoes (for which reasoning, see above) and my daughter's Brownie sash. This is ornamented with several sewn-on emblems (trefoils, small mammals) and badges symbolising various accomplishments. I added a red star enhanced with Lenin's profile to it, but even without this I think it could have easily passed as something from the days of Brezhnev.
To complete the look I carried a wicker trug full of leafy carrots, as if plucked straight from Ukrainian soil. Naturally, I got the bunch of carrots from my favourite thrift supermarket, namely Lidl. I now make fortnightly pilgrimages to the Hackney branch of this German cost-cutter. I know I am not the only Islingtonite to do this.
Only, this time my experience of doing the family shop was not one of unalloyed pleasure. When I rolled up at Lidl, I noticed the trolley area was being menaced by two hooded youths of about 12 years old, one of whom was severely facially disfigured. How severely? Think Freddie Kruger (A Nightmare on Elm Street) meets Jason (Friday the 13th).
Their routine went thus. A customer approaches the area and releases a trolley, by inserting a £1 coin. The disfigured child comes up very close and asks, quietly but insistently, for another £1. If you refuse, he abuses you. On your way out, having unpacked your trolley, you have a choice of two options. You either abandon the trolley, with the £1 deposit inside it, or run the gauntlet of the trolley park, at which these two youths will return to you and threaten to deface your car if you pocket your £1 rather than giving it to them.
The Lidl staff inside all knew this was going on, but the shop is clearly not going to run to installing uniformed, salaried trolley staff, like they do in the Islington branch of Sainsbury's.This, dear reader, is the unsavoury side of thrifty living. Standing in the checkout queue, I was not worrying about Lidl's social policy, as much as about how I was going to get out unscathed.
I started wishing I'd never abandoned Tesco online shopping. I even contemplated returning to the outrageously priced yet cosy Waitrose. Such is my fair-weather thriftiness; I dump it whenever the going gets tough, or when it starts raining and a taxi goes past.
In the end, I asked the store manager to escort me to the car - which he did. The youths didn't dare approach. The manager told me how he likes Lidl, which now has 410 stores in the UK. "Do you know, it's the country's second quickest growing store?" he said. (Apparently Ikea is the fastest.) "You need to get some help in the trolley area," I observed, "otherwise all your new customers will leave."
But was this the right thing to do? After all, my tormentor was only a child, and with such a dreadful face, who could really blame him for using it thus? I mean, it's tormenting customers at Lidl or a walk-on part in a slasher movie. These are the only options available. He clearly needed help, but no one was willing to help him.
The issue affected my behaviour at Laura's Russian soirée, when I took my costume too seriously and berated a guest who admitted he was against the congestion charge.
"What do you mean, it's wrong to charge an £8 flat fee for all drivers?" I demanded. "How about thinking about what's best for the greater number of people? You should be proud to travel by bus! You should be delighted to travel by tube! London is not a private place but a communal experience!" Apart from the car park at Lidl, that is. I don't know if I've thought through socialism carefully enough. Maybe I should have put on some pointe shoes and come as a prima ballerina.
Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk
The best deals on personal loans: Peer-to-peer providers are more competitive for smaller sums
China stock market: My portfolio's in pain, but it was never for the financially faint-hearted
China stock collapse: Five things you need to know about 'Black Monday'
Questions of Cash: 'Our dividends seem to have disappeared when TSB was bought and then born again'
My Tinder date asked for a refund when I declined a second meet up
- 1 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 2 Pictures show young Palestinian girl biting Israeli soldier trying to detain boy during West Bank protests
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 4 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn voters most likely to believe 'world is controlled by a secretive elite'
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Day In a Page
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.