I've always been the sort of person who wants to get to the bottom of things. When my book Market, Schmarket was published in 2006 I had included an exploration of the excessive focus on prices in modern markets and the way this led to an undermining of quality. I unwisely focused the discussion around the underwear market, specifically that for women's knickers.
Needless to say, this attracted more attention than the other 250-odd pages put together and turned me overnight into the underwear economist - the doyenne of the news in brief column. The article published in the Welsh national newspaper under the title 'Knickers to Global Capitalism' was proudly displayed on the board outside my office door for several months. I am even more proud to think that I may have played some small role in encouraging John-Paul Flintoff to embark on his personal spiritual quest that resulted in making his own y-fronts.
My services were put to good social use when a colleague who works for a charity working with street-sex workers in Bristol asked my advice on knickers that would be long-lasting and capable of dealing with some fairly rough treatment. My answer at the time was People Tree, although I have since discovered the intriguing campaign group Pants to Poverty and we also have the delight of Green Knickers.
It is clear that in this area, puns are as cheap as the underwear itself. But, if I can be excused, I think it is encouraging that such a fundamental item of clothing, and yet one that can so easily be hidden from the public gaze, has been the subject of such intense web- and soul-searching.