The mercury might have plummeted in the northern hemisphere, but if you need a few tons of the stuff, I may be able to help. I received an e-mail the other day from someone in the mainland offering it in 68-kilogram lots.

Of the many bargains offered to me daily via my inbox, ingots must be the hot ticket. I wouldn't mind a few in gold, but how about a couple of tonnes in aluminium, magnesium, copper, lead or tin? A shedful of antimony, anyone?

I could just curl up and dye with the remarkable offers on "reactive dyes, weak acid dyes, cationic dyes, disperse dyes, direct dyes, vat dyes and textile auxiliaries in excellent quality." Maybe I should just go Avatar and dye my whole body. Perhaps a couple of tons of litho-pone could light up my life?

I could run a car from here to Bethlehem with all the oils on offer. Says Elva from Shijiazhuang, Hebei province: "We are specially manufacture waste oil, include used cooking oil, waste vegetable oil and so on. And free sample will be sent for your evaluation." My wok runneth over at the thought.

And should I want to take up candle making as a hobby, on an, oh, say, industrial scale, I've been offered more paraffin than you'd need to light up all of Hong Kong.

I wish I could wash my hands of it all. A company in Dagang, with a name that looks like a bad scrabble hand, is offering to supply me with chemicals for soaps and detergents.

Meanwhile, if you want to build a bridge, a tunnel, a pipeline or an oil rig in your living room. I can help you out.

And why not stock up on a shipload of "high quality garlic" while we're at it?