Allow me a brief word on stiffeners. I am not referring to cocktails or Viagra, but to the slim metallic inserts in men's shirt collars. Collar stiffeners, or, as they are known in your country, collar stays. I mention them now because twice in the past fortnight I have been on the receiving end of puzzled inquiries into their use, if you can believe it. The first time a young banker asked me as we were riding the lift how I kept my shirt collars from curling. The query astounded me, but I was prepared as always with an authoritative-sounding explanation and referred him to the nearest men's shop for a pair of brass ones. Speaking of brass, recently over premium-strength cocktails a good chum expressed surprise at my use of brass stays, as his are plastic. I took them out for his inspection and they were passed around the group. Brass, I explained, is not the only option; collar stays are also available in sterling silver, gold, palladium, and titanium for the sporty set. Aristocratic bankers in Japan use razor-sharp bamboo stiffeners, whose fragility helps them maintain correct neck posture, avoiding sudden motions, when meeting with eminent clients. In the photo (above) you can see my pair of brass stiffeners lounging about in a box made of Russia calf recently acquired from Cleverley, along with a few trinkets for which I no longer have much use. In life as in love, it is important to keep not only a stiff upper lip, but a stiff collar as well.