Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 6 June 2009

Your problems solved

Q. I am trying to persuade my friends in the more fashionable areas of London that it is now not only socially acceptable but ‘all the rage’ to shop in Lidl, Asda and Netto, as opposed to Waitrose and Partridges in the King’s Road. Judging by the accents I heard on a recent trip, these shops are attracting clientele from across the social spectrum due to the credit crunch. Could you reassure those of my friends who are still wary of venturing into these splendid emporia?

N.McA., London SW1

A. Saving money has always been socially acceptable. Even during the boom years it was a form of one-upmanship to travel Economy across the Atlantic while fellow holidaymakers went Business or First. On re-meeting in Arrivals, you would wrong-foot your smugly well-rested friends by pointing out that, in exchange for no more than eight hours of discomfort, you had effectively ‘made’ a term’s prep-school fees. Equally, for the parents of young children too inexperienced to be critical, downmarket holiday camps within the M25 were as popular in the boom years as they are now. Yet time is money and if your rate was £1,500 an hour then it made sense to waste as little time as possible in, for example, activities like crossing the river to shop in order to knock £50 off your grocery bill. Today it is quite a different story and none of your friends should be wary of venturing into Lidl, Asda and Netto. Not only is it socially acceptable to be seen there, but for tumbrel pre-emption reasons, many of those readers secretly still earning £1,500 per hour consider it de rigueur.

Dear Mary writes: Warning. The next problem contains material which may revolt.

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