I popped in for some milk and came out with a flamethrower

Paddy Logue: I built up a large collection of items that Lidl, Aldi and Ikea decided I wanted long before I knew I needed them

A colleague confirmed that I am not the only one, reporting that he had visited an unspecified German retailer for potatoes and left with a pair of night-vision goggle

A colleague confirmed that I am not the only one, reporting that he had visited an unspecified German retailer for potatoes and left with a pair of night-vision goggle

 

I had only popped into Lidl to buy some milk and a sliced pan but came out with a flamethrower and some weird-looking German sausage in a net. The flamethrower was for burning off weeds and, my gosh, was it satisfying to see those bad boys burn straight off the patio slabs. But the canister ran out of gas with about a quarter of the cobble lock still to do and the thrower has been in the shed ever since. I ended up taking the weeds out with a kitchen knife in the end. I ate some of the weird German sausage and put the rest on the bird table.

This was about five years ago, but in the meantime I have built up a large collection of items that Lidl, Aldi and Ikea decided I wanted long before I knew I desperately needed to have them.

There are the four pairs of sports sunglasses because just one pair at €2.50 seemed undeserving of the diesel expended getting to the shop. What if one pair broke and there were none left in the shop? What if two pairs broke and I lost two other pairs? There are the runners I wore once, but, what the heck, they were only €7. The sweatshops of Bangladesh will no doubt be pleased to know that I really enjoyed that one time I slipped them on, before I put them in the wardrobe back in June, 2013.

There are seven picture frames, three roller blinds, a set of six metal clothes hooks and four small mirrors (still wrapped in plastic) sitting at the bottom of a press in my bedroom awaiting attention since the summer of 2015.

Two light fittings (cords far too long), acquired during a shopping trip to Ikea, are in a corner in the kitchen whispering to me every time I pass them. “Put me up, Paddy, you useless so-and-so"

Similarly, two light fittings (cords far too long), acquired during a shopping trip to Ikea, are in a corner in the kitchen whispering to me every time I pass them. “Put me up, Paddy, you useless so-and-so. Call yourself a man? But you can’t even put up a set of light fittings,” they say in a strong Swedish accent. “I didn’t really want you in the first place,” I respond. “Look at you. Who do you think you are. You might look chic in a kitchen in Linköping, but in a housing estate in Co Louth?”

I bought about four pressurised canisters designed to pump up a bicycle tyre for those times you find yourself without a pump. I already had two pumps. I bought a wicker owl figureen in Aldi last summer which is sitting outside my front of my house among a number of flower pots looking menacingly at anybody who comes to the door.

One of its eyes fell off during a storm last winter, but still, the owl lives and for about a tenner, I feel like I made a good purchasing choice. The solar powered lanterns I bought on the same shopping trip are long since stepped on, mowed over, chewed by the dog, or worn out, but I never did buy that chiminea. Every time I go into Aldi now I have a quick look to see if the chiminea is still on offer. One of these days . . .

A colleague visited an unspecified German retailer for potatoes and left with a pair of night-vision goggles and a mop."

Lidl, Aldi and Ikea have changed me and changed the way I shop. As time goes on, I find myself more and more entranced by the middle aisle during seemingly straightforward shopping trips. I arrive, open up the list on my phone, grab a trolley, pick up strawberries, bananas, bread, coffee, a four-pack of curly wurlys, a pair of wellingtons, rashers, ham, frozen pizzas, and a wheelbarrow. A colleague confirmed that I am not the only one, reporting that he had visited an unspecified German retailer for potatoes and left with a pair of night-vision goggles and a mop.

These shops know what we want and when we want it, even when we don’t want it. When it’s raining they will have umbrellas on special. When the sun comes out they have potting compost and bedding plants in your face .

It’s the familiarity, the lure of its in-tune attitude to my life that makes them so attractive, so addictive. It has come to this: I find myself flicking through the brochures each Sunday afternoon with excited anticipation of what discounted tat I can add to my collection that’s already gathering dust.

Even as I knew that I was being reeled into spending small amounts of hard-earned cash on items I could definitely do without, I recently found myself driving into the newly refurbished Lidl in Drogheda a day before it was due to open.

“We are not open until tomorrow,” the Eastern European man in a fluorescent jacket parked at the entrance told me. Clearly I hadn’t been the first over-eager customer. I just wanted to have a look, I had heard so much about it, what could the middle isle of this new wonder possibly have? It would definitely be the best middle aisle yet and would surely contain magic and wondrous items that will soon be mine for only a small number of my euros. All hail the new shopping Gods.