So Hull smells of burnt chocolate and pies. And shit. Mostly of shit, really. The smell doesn’t really hit you when you walk out of the station so much as it sneaks into your nose by jimmying a window, and then your sinuses wake up just in time to get their heads caved in with a vase. Of course if you're visiting at night-time then there are many things that will probably hit you as you walk out of the station, such as a chav’s fist or his baseball bat.
Okay, yes, that’s an unfair generalisation of Hull, I admit it, and I’ve no right to go saying things like that about the train station when the only time I was ever beaten up by chavs was outside the university.
There’s another thing that might hit you as you walk out of the train station, too. You’ve just arrived; you step out to your first glimpse of Hull; you run your eye along the shops ranged opposite, and bam – Sex Toy shop.
Okay. So there's really nothing untoward about that, in honesty. We're moving forward as a society, and it's great that we've reached a point where you can have this stuff on display without your children being set on fire. I mean, compared to places like Ibiza, we’re still practically Puritan. I was over there last year and even the big family-friendly supermarkets stock nipple clamps on the same aisle as the fig rolls.
|Browsing in an Ibizan shop. Desk fan, Hot-Dog steamer, Strap-On... hey, they sell stationary!|
So as I was saying, purveyor of purple dongs and vibrating rubber tits right outside the train station, ho ho ho, oh those wacky Hullians, come on let’s find the pub. Fair enough. Except that come the end of my visit I hop on the train back to Derby, and I get outside the station and look down the street, and bam. Sex Toy shop. Same franchise, no less.
You know how there's a massive branch of marketing research devoted to arranging your shops in just the right way to ensure the best sales? I mean, some of this stuff you’d never think of until it’s pointed out. Like how nearly every supermarket has its fruit and veg at the front of the store because the bright colours draw attention, and they put the milk at the very back because people need milk all the time and making them walk through the whole store makes it more likely they’ll pick up something else, and they put alcohol near the baby products because new parents have just found out that babies are actually whiny demanding bundles of shit and they need something to numb the pain of having to look after the bloody thing for the next eighteen years.
So if the marketing fobs at SimplyPleasure, for that is who they are, are correct in their findings, then this country’s most pervasive purchasers of penile paraphernalia are the passengers of British Rail.
I don't know about you, but I'm intrigued. I mean, I know that train travel can be a chore, and sometimes after your train gets delayed for the fifth time you feel like you could honestly stab someone in the face, but I’ve never needed to wind down with anything stronger than a cup of tea and an episode of Family Guy. Is there really a significant demographic out there who step off from a 3-train interchange from London to Edinburgh and think to themselves “Buggerin' 'ell, If I don’t get me an Arsequaker 5000 and some lube in the next five minutes I’m gonna EXPLODE!”?
And yet a major retailer of these things apparently thinks yes, there is.
(PS Yes, before any smug bastard points it out, there are probably lots of quite valid reasons why this is so, including but not limited to people visiting their lovers after weeks apart who might pick up something racy for the reunion, businessmen travelling from one lonely hotel-room to another who want something that isn’t a prostitute, and trainspotters. However, shut your face.)