There are some image choices which cause my usual all-inclusive liberalism to crumble. Goths, for example, always make me snigger. Moustaches, on anyone other than a publican or cattle handler inspire my suspicion. Above all, men with ponytails earn reflexive contempt. I encounter them regularly in my counterculture life - both Unix administrators and sci-fi bookshop staff celebrate the ability to appear Sikh-like in their abomination of the barber's blade, yet affected enough to want to shackle their manes, as though they were trunks of fibre-optical cabling.
In the work environment, ponytails are found in the same sartorial forest of Keep Clear signs as comedy socks, novelty ties, and other borderline adherences to dress code (clue: when your empoyer asks you to wear a shirt and tie to work, he probably didn't mean a black shirt, or a bow tie, even if you're a professional conjurer).
Ponytails betray a lack of work/leisure hygiene: they belong to monomaniacal weekend hippies, who want you to ask them about themselves over the coffee machine.
I have today identified a still more risible phenomenon: The phantom ponytail, or hair stump.
This belongs to a male office worker who has been patiently growing his hair in the belief he will soon look exactly like Robert Plant, and as soon as it is possible, gathers it at the back in a borrowed scrunchie, or more likely an elastic band. There is so little hair that rather than hanging down around the nape of the neck, the resulting stump protrudes horizontally, diametrically opposite the wearer's nose. No barbering has been involved, and so there are loose ends flying out all over the place.
Although now appearing to have recently had a while-you-wait facelift, the owner now believes he looks like a woodsman, or some kind of fantasy knight.
Ponder this: In all the male models sporting archetypcal men's hairstyles from the Tony Curtis to the latest David Beckham you have ever seen in a stylist's window, have you ever seen one sporting a ponytail? No. It's the look that money can't buy and which has therefore been forced underground, where desperate men actually perform this misguided procedure upon themselves, often botching it with hideous consequences.