Among the goodies waiting for me under the Christmas tree this year were two pairs of decidedly retro underpants. Based on the original Jockey Y-front design which ruled the pre-boxer short roost, they’ve been restyled with a slightly longer leg, catering to the demands of today’s discerning trunk-wearer. One pair is a rather flashy mandarin, the other a handsome turquoise, complete with the familiar strategically placed white piping and a faithfully recreated elasticated waistband. Takes my backside back, I must say.

What struck me most though, was the accompanying label, bearing the rather braggy strapline “The original Jockey® Y-Front® brief — a true American legend”. And a photo of what can only be described the kind of dubbered old pants your granddad might wear. Heritage is one thing, but here, I think we’re hitting something of a bum note.

I’m pretty sure this has never happened to me before, and it’s unlikely to happen again. I’d just treated myself to a copy of new book, entitled ‘Alphabets: A Miscellany of Letters’, and was idly flicking through its handsome pages. It’s a charming, quirky compendium of applied letterforms, arranged in themed chapters — B for ‘Bestiary’, F for ‘Found’, H for ‘Hand’, J for ‘Journey’, and so on. It features games, posters, signage, packaging, furniture… in fact, virtually anything’s considered fair game so long as it references the alphabet.

And there, staring back at me on page 56, was something that looked decidedly familiar. A poster I’d worked on with the great Derek Birdsall back in 2004. You could have knocked me down with a feather (shaped like a letter f, perhaps). Our effort was based on the letter i, and featured in a exhibition at the British Library organised by 26. Originally, it was printed on a reflective surface, so that people would see their faces in the poster as they read the text, picking up of the idea of I as shorthand for identity.

Here’s what some of the text in ‘Alphabets’ says about the poster: “Birdsall is an influential book designer who, therefore, works closely with letters in his day-to-day work. Davies, a writer, has contributed works of fiction and non-fiction to a variety of publications, and his humorous interpretation of the letter’s history is characteristic of his work. The letter is given a pompous voice and lists its many uses in language and technology, drawing attention to its strong aesthetics, which make it suited to graphic art.”

After I’d recovered from the surprise, I felt pretty pleased with myself. But on reflection I thought, shouldn’t someone have at least asked first?

‘Alphabets: A Miscellany of Letters’ is published by Black Dog. You can pick it up on Amazon for £16.96.