PONYTAILS worn by men in suits annoy me. Women with ponytails are OK and so are hippies, but businessmen who sport them have me itching to reach for the scissors.

It's not just that they look stupid, but that, as an irritating cross-breed of hippie and yuppy, they defy categorisation. Do you call a suit and ponytail a huppie or a yippy?

I'm sure you know the type. Anyone who has had the misfortune to travel on the London Underground will have come across this hybrid: smart shirt, Financial Times and, poking over a starched collar, usually in your face, the offending article. Such a person never quite reconciled post-finals, Glastonbury debauchery with the graduate accountancy training course.

What are the qualities of a huppy/yippy? There's a notion championed by my father's chauvinistic Australian cousin, and one not peculiar to him, which says that men with beards cultivate facial hair because it hints at excess virility, or distracts attention from effete shortcomings. I would suggest that ponytails are meant to signal another sort of male excess; namely, a more than usual quota of emotion and a merchant banker's bank balance.

For the suit plus ponytail, having a Porsche and a conscience need not be mutually exclusive. This is the Nineties Man advertisers have been telling us about. A supposedly caring, demonstrative, 'do the dishes' type, in touch with nature: at least, all the nature he can cram into a Habitat patio tub. Woody Allen played just such a character in the 1991 film Scenes From a Mall. In it he was a successful businessman with an apology for a ponytail and a rocky marriage.

Which is my whole point: the fatuity and falsehood of fashion. Hirsute executives are not miraculously sensitive beings who put the rubbish out unasked and participate in underwater births. Nor are they necessarily rich.

And if having hair made you a nicer person, then the Vikings would have been wonderful fathers and lovers. And we all know that their idea of a good time was to leap on the ancient Norse equivalent of a cross-

Channel ferry and sail over to England to rape our virgins and plunder our stores, rather as the British go to France for weekend shopping.

Of course, it's all the fault of the French. This penchant for ponytails has filtered across the Channel. But whereas a ponytail on a Mediterranean waiter looks bohemian, on a futures floor it just looks naff. John Major has more than Economic Union to worry about in 1992: we are witnessing a hostile, hairstyle takeover.

These ponytails vary from gorgeous, groomed wads or short on top and long at the back, to bunched-up excuses of the 'I'm going to be trendy even if it kills me' variety. What I want to know is, where have they been hiding themselves until now? This fashion has been popular among style- slaves only for the last two years and it takes more than two years to grow a decent ponytail - I should know, I've tried - so what did these men now blessed with masses of hair do with it while it was growing?

Another thing: how were they allowed to get through the awful, messy stage that everyone goes through when growing out their hair without a reminder that company policy was grey-

suited anonymity? Why hasn't some managing director whispered in the corporate lift 'A word in your shell-like, get that chopped off'?

Imagine being married to a man with a ponytail, having his hair blocking the plug hole, his shampoo, conditioner, hair gel and wax crowding out the bathroom cabinet. Or hanging around the changing rooms after a game of squash while he blows it dry. No thank you]

As a child I was fascinated by a German verse tale about a disgusting boy called Struwwelpeter. He had dirt-clogged nails and long filthy hair, neither of which he cut. He met a timely fate when the Scissor Man cut off his hair and, for good measure, not just his nails but his fingers: 'Snip, snip, snip and in he ran, the great long-legged Scissor Man.'

Like the Scissor Man, I dream of rampaging through Euston, wielding shears and lopping off these annoying