Words: blowout, v. and n.

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CHIC NEW Yorkers deem it well-nigh mandatory to have a good blowout before going on to dinner. It is the current term for something which, in highly trained hands, can cost as much as $275.

Apparently, it is no mere blow-dry, as we know it, but - in the wake of the Friends actress Jennifer Aniston - a craving to persuade everybody that one's hair is straight and full. Once something to which only Jackie Onassis had recourse at the Waldorf- Astoria salon run by Kenneth Battelle, it now has Madison Avenue salons jammed at cocktail hour with addicts of high-wattage devices.

Meanwhile, irrelevantly, irresistibly, one is reminded of the neat graffito beside a hand-drier in a Balliol lavatory: "Press here for SDP manifesto".