This is as fine a body of grumpy men as you could hope to meet

Grumpy Old Men was a successful and often entertaining television series a few years ago. It is also a medical condition and an anthropological phenomenon.

Now, as shop assistants run desperately into the streets with waving arms to pull punters in for Father's Day, it is a book as well - Grumpy Old Men, 47 New Zealand males of varying fame and worth writing what curdles their grump.

The term is a worrying one.

I am glad the makers of the television series later had a crack at grumpy old women as well, because generally, grumpy appears to be the sole domain of the male. Like autism.

Grumpy Old Women didn't work quite as well on the telly, but grumpy men with savagely fine vocabularies and venom to burn, like A. A. Gill, Ben Elton and Will Self, are ferociously practitioners of the craft.

Psychologists, noting also there was a thing called Irritable Man Syndrome, have concluded that where men yell, women merely fret.

Your quintessential grumpy old man is seen to be someone sitting very close to the television in a very comfortable, albeit worn, chair, spilled food on his chest, barking angrily at the aforementioned television.

Grumpy old men do not turn the television off, they just rail eternally at it.

They do not need an audience, indeed, an empty room drives them into even more lascivious lathers of anger. Through a wall, this can be fearful listening.

There is no question grumpy old man syndrome is a valid medical condition.

Its biochemical, hormonal and testosterone-disappearing back story would render a far weaker gender, it would be inappropriate to mention which one, senseless with impotence and grief.

It is to man's eternal credit that while some of his grump may be hurled at things that are perhaps just a little trivial, the Gallipolian battle that is raging within his central nervous system is always worthy of the highest respect.

I would never consider myself a grumpy old man. It is possible there are times when I am middle-aged and ever so slightly miffed, but that is as far as I will go. Any grump extant in my behaviour is almost imperceptible to the naked eye or ear.

''Placid'' is a word that comes to mind when I am confronted by bus drivers who drive off before I have found my seat carrying a second-hand keyboard and a bag of books from the Sally Army shop.

''Accepting'' is the gerund I would reach for when I am standing in the 12 Items Or Less supermarket queue and the person in front of me is buying for a school camp.

''Bemused'' is the only way I could describe the absurdity of why DVD spines don't face the same way in sale bins.

''Incredulous But Still Not Angry'' is how I feel when a salesman in a home appliance store tells me he has exactly the same model at home as the one I have indicated I might buy.

And ''Just A Little Tight In The Teeth'' is how I react to being asked how my day has been.

I won't mention golf spectators who scream out ''In the HOLE!'' every time someone hits the ball in a major golf tournament on television.

Roger Hall mentioned that one in the book. Everyone from Sam Neill through Sir Ray Avery to the Mad Butcher is here, though the Mad Butcher is technically Sir Peter Leitch. I feel a teensy bit grumpy about THAT.

The doyen of grump, Sir Bob Jones, is absent. A shame. His theories on tattoos and cellphones should be taught in schools.

I hope the publishers do Grumpy Old Women for the next Mother's Day.

I can imagine a number of issues women may wish to raise, though I would never presume to list them. I am sure Men Trying To Think Like Women would be at the top of any woman's fret list.

But it would be a damn good book.

• Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.

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