One of the main attractions of city-centre living is that all of the amenities one could possibly need are close to hand. The fact that you can look out of our front window in Edinburgh and see no fewer than four pubs, a 24-hour shop and a branch of Scotland's finest independent record chain was particularly compelling when we chose this flat (a malfunctioning oven and furniture that could charitably be described as "rickety"—somewhat less so). Better still, if corners don't faze you, turning onto Nicolson Street yields three supermarkets. Walking north, there's Tesco Metro for the beginning of the month, Farmfoods for when you've wasted half of your paycheque on alcohol, and Lidl for when money's tight and you have to subsist on diet of 10p cans of kidney beans and Lebkuchen.
It is this last that interests us today. Long-term readers, close friends and particularly-attentive spies might remember the time, three years ago, that I queued patiently outside my local Lidl to purchase the very computer on which I write this today. Allow me, then, to present my step-by-step guide to discount shopping:
- Forewarned is forearmed. Quite obviously, you've got to know what the specials are, and when they come on sale, before you head down to the shop. This enables you to make arrangements for the big day, such as, for example, taking time off work. If you're particularly canny, you'll have a word with one of the shop staff on the night before, in order to find out particulars like the amount of stock, and the precise location of the goods on the sales floor (you may wish to mark this on a handy copy of the architect's drawings of the shop, while stocks last).
- The early bird catches the specials. Make a note of when your local Lidl opens: in my case, this is at eight o'clock in the morning (a full hour before the Lidl helpline suggested—be warned!). Get a good night's sleep, and make sure you arrive outside the (shuttered) door at least ten minutes earlier than the advertised time.
- Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. When you arrive at the shop, there will likely be a queue. I, for example, forwent sleep last night, so that I wouldn't miss opening time; I was sixth in line. At this point, you might think that positioning would be important: when that shutter goes up (exactly at opening time, and not one moment sooner), you would want to duck under it, slip through the turnstile and make a dash for the non-food department. Fool! What is little known about the cult of the discount supermarket is that there is a strict honour system. Everyone remembers when everyone after them arrives, and it is this, your number, that determines whether you'll be walking out of there with a shiny new DVD player. And if some wiseguy thinks that he can push his way to the front of that queue? Well, there's gonna be one helluva thrifty lynch mob on his ass.
So, there you have it. Perhaps you would like to try out your new skills on Monday, when specials will include Dictation Machines, Video Recorders and Bodyforming Tights. Lidl. Top Quality Always Cheap.