I would not call myself a campaigning journalist by any stretch of the imagination, but there are subjects about which I feel strongly enough to occasionally shake off my torpor, arise from my day bed and try to change the world. One such subject is the cigar cutter. Clip the head off a cigar incorrectly and the wrapper can unravel, destroying highly skilled work, and such disrespect to the dextrous abilities of the torcedor is something I find completely unacceptable.
But as well as being a mechanical function, clipping a cigar is a pleasurable ritual. I have used the same Dunhill cutter, worn on a chain that passes through my lapel, for the past 25 years. However, there are times – mirabile dictu – when I am not wearing a suit or sports jacket, and on such occasions my favourite cigar clipper is one that was given to me by a friend with extremely good taste a few years ago. Roughly the size of a credit card, covered in crocodile and with the guillotine aperture through the centre, it is one of the finest things ever made by Hermès (although I would not say no to one of its collapsible backgammon sets, and I can always find space for another Hermès ashtray).
This cutter is my constant companion. So you can imagine my shock upon entering Hermès to look for a few in different colours in traditional Hermès leathers, such as Box and Barenia, only to find that this wonderful item had been discontinued, leaving only a decidedly ordinary metal cutter (£495) in a little leather pouch.
Struggling home, in shock, I decided to take immediate action; so, after a lie down, a restorative cigar and so forth, I contacted Pierre Alexis Dumas, the artistic director of Hermès. Like me, he was shocked that this item had been removed from the range without his having been consulted. Had he had a supersized version of the cigar cutter to hand, I daresay I would have heard the sound of heads rolling.
Because Pierre Alexis shares my admiration for the simple, effective elegance of this cutter, I am happy to say that it will be returning to Hermès shops shortly in both fauve (natural brown) Barenia and a dark verdant green Swift leather (£465). However, while it will be available over the counter, so to speak, in Paris, in the UK it will be on special order only. I can only imagine that President Macron has insisted on this petty inconvenience as part of what to my mind can only be described as a punitive European negotiation strategy. Rest assured I will be taking the matter up with the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union as a matter of urgency.