Impotence affects a significant minority of pensioners in the UK and can be a serious source of mental stress, frustration and interpersonal tension.

The causes can be physical, mental, emotional and, in a few cases, financial or environmental, but the symptoms are broadly, if flaccidly, the same – erectile dysfunction, the occasional wearing of odd coloured socks and a sudden compulsion to play backgammon.

Fortunately there is now a range of reliable treatments, including Viagra, cognitive behaviour therapy, foot pumps and welding a steel rod to your penis. In addition, some religions believe that impotence is a divine punishment for prior promiscuity, and can be cured by sacrificing a virgin, although there is no hard evidence for the effectiveness of this approach.

Sadly, many GPs still confuse impotence with impatience, impertinence and impetigo, and even those who acknowledge it as a recognised condition, find it difficult to spell correctly, and are therefore reluctant to add it to your medical records. The standard reference work on the subject is The Impotence of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde.