On the bullet train, I have been perusing the on-train shop brochure, which is a mental collection of Japanese inventions sufficient to make the average Innovations catalogue look like a collection of really useful items. Should the mood strike me at 200 miles an hour between Hachinohe and Sendai, I have the opportunity to ask one of the passing stewardesses to sell me a two-metre high bookcase. Or a dildo. I am quite boggled by the sort of things on sale, which seems to assume that all travellers will be octogenarian, deaf, suddenly obese and in dire need of, in no particular order, toe wideners, umbrellas that turn into walking sticks, body bags (for sleeping in one’s car, it is implied), porcelain statues of begging cats, a truss, a man-bra, a collapsible wheelchair, a toilet seat cover that has something to do with angler fish (maybe it keeps them away), a one-metre length wall mirror, a 2lb sack of grass seed, a mallet, a packet of pickles, a baseball cap holder (takes 36), a porcelain statue of a dog with a lantern in its mouth (which can welcome you home from a hard day at the office, but only if you are a dick), biscuits, pickles, a piggy bank shaped like a train that makes choo-choo noises every time you chuck in a coin, a cowboy hat, a mountain bike, a ninja headband, a lawn hoover, a false teeth sonic cleaning kit, electric shoe deodorisers (in pairs), a fishing rod, a hacksaw, and a self-illuminating statue of two frogs playing checkers but using ladybirds as pieces. It does rather make me wonder, in the event of a nuclear holocaust, if the best possible place to be is actually on a bullet train, as somewhere all these objects are presumably stored aboard, and will be available to aid in the re-establishment of some semblance of human civilisation. Authorially speaking, it does make me muse about the possibilities of writing a story that somehow uses all of these items. Now that British television is open to product placement, I wonder how long it will be before they too are pushing double-hafted garden forks, and chairs that have built-in beds for cats.