Mankind will never come to grips with the button fly

Down the foggy ruins of time, three things have received universal loathing: phone help desks, war, and John Stape from Coronation Street. We certainly don't need a fourth with a list as damnatory as this. But I would nevertheless like to fiercely, stubbornly, offer one more - the button fly.

What an utterly wretched, self-defeating, rotting fish-head of creative calumny and horse jobbies the button fly has been. My God, where does one start?

Well, I started at a premier Dunedin women's fashion store. No need to mention names, this is a hotly competitive industry. But I know and trust these people like the blood that runs within - they know about clothing; they have seen more fashion trends come and go than I have had not just hot dinners, but just DINNERS.

I was immediately flooded with theory. The two women there raced from behind the counter to shout into each of my two working ears, shouting simultaneously at their customers to come and add more. I was assailed, nay, completely swallowed over. Why had I not packed a pen? But recall was not required, as their very first comment froze my brain in its tracks.

Access. The woman whose name began with D said the first time she flounced domestically with a button fly, her father roared like a bullring bull. You are providing them with easy access, he roared. D was so young she barely knew what access was. But the man was hopelessly wrong. Access is precisely what the button fly prevents, the whole point of the thing negated at first thrust. I do not consider myself an unusually adroit man, but I can flick a zip up and down in the bat of an amoeba's eyelid, if I need to.

And most men need to.

The Carisbrook Terraces! You drop that phrase at a prestigious dinner party and every man at the table will be reaching for his zipper. We were packed in there, you could barely move, and nobody wanted to miss a single second of the action on the field, so you whazzed into the pocket of the person in front of you. Man or woman, it didn't matter; the beauty of rugby is that it is genderless. And to whazz quickly and unobtrusively into someone's pocket, especially when you are roaring drunk, you need a zip.

I am an older man now, I don't go to the rugby roaring drunk, shouting genderless banter. But I do walk along the main street every day, where, because I have lived here all my life, I know eight people out of 10. And if I am suddenly caught short, being bent double trying to open a recalcitrant button fly as I race to the closest public rest room with beads of sweat squirting from the forehead and face scrunched up into a blind cobbler's thumb is not a good look. And with age has come a mature respect for appearance.

Nail trimmers. When I turn these fiendish little Chinese weapons loose, I am unable to get any grip at all on a fly button for two full weeks. Why else the button fly? Fashion? You mean, like not tying laces, having holes in the knees and wearing caps backwards? No. Environmentalists will squawk button flies use less refined metal, but the day I dress in the morning to the cawing of an environmentalist is the day I eat my own arm. Sexy? Because Google has 2,830,000 references for ''button fly sexy''? I think we are splitting hairs.

And unfortunately, splitting hairs is the main thing anti-zippers can legitimately trumpet. Damage to the cargo down below. But I would argue the IQ of a man who got anything important caught in a zipper would be less than room temperature. Women? In the Bible, there is only one case of a woman performing circumcision, and she was called Zipporah. Case dismissed. But for the rest of us, please, march, send submissions, chain yourself to an iron paling fence. The button fly has to be driven out.

Merry Xmas.