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3 Oct 2014
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Me and My Ponytail (continued)

Tim Healey, heroic and solitary figure, defends the right of a man to wear his ponytail in peace..

Besides dangers of this sort, it has to be said too that the ponytail is a high-maintenance hairstyle, requiring not only brushing and combing, but mastering a single-wristed yanking and coiling manoeuvre to get the scrunchy on. Scrunchies, in case you don’t know, are the little cotton-wrapped, elasticated bands you wear to keep your ponytail in place. You get them from the chemist at the feminine haircare counter. Strange, furry rings they are, like something you’d find in a sex shop, and I always feel faintly guilty buying them.

Plus you’ve got to get the angle right. Early in my ponytail days I came down to the breakfast table after a morning bath, to a quite unexpected explosion of derision. What now? I had, apparently, given myself a high ponytail, one of the ones that comes down from the top of the head instead of the nape of the neck. Marvellous, Dad. Takes years off you. You look like one of those 14-year old Roumanian gymnasts.

I’m used to mockery. I’ve worn my hair longish in one style or another since my schooldays, when the Beatles first stormed the charts. Oh, we fought such battles over hair in the 60s! It was the supreme symbol of the counter-culture - of a generation who let it all hang out, wild and free. To hell with the Cowboys, we were on the side of the Indians, attuned to nature and the rhythm of the seasons. Long hair remains to emblematic of new men, in touch with their feminine side; intuitive, creative, erotic. I am saving the world with my hair, and high ponytail or not, I don't expect to hear talk of Roumanian gymnasts, still less remarks like "Hi Dad, off to a gymkhana?"

Should I cut it off? Certainly not. My ever-lengthening ponytail counterbalances my ever-expanding midriff, keeping me in a bizarre kind of equilibrium. And though the ponytail may not be thought especially cool at the moment, I’m now at an age where it is almost indecent to care about looking trendy. Besides, I don’t believe that ponytails are wholly done for. On the contrary, it interests me how they seem to go in and out of style according to wholly mysterious fashion laws; or perhaps even the state of the economy. My belief is that you see more ponytails at times of high unemployment. This reflects twin factors; the disapproval of employers and the cost of haircuts. Sometimes in a crowd I feel myself to be a heroic and solitary figure - The Last Ponytail - then they return, streaming down the backs of young passers-by like an infestation of rats.

So David Seaman, keep watching the FTSE index - if recent pronouncements by Sven Goren Ericsson are to be believed your time may come again. Morally and spiritually I would say you are sporting the right hairstyle. It’s just that the football pitch today is an incredibly fashion-sensitive field where the right hair at the wrong time is the wrong hair. Like judging high crosses, it’s all about timing, see?


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