The gaiety of the nation: “adds to the gaiety of the nation” is one of my favourite little phrases. I like it because it makes, quite succinctly, the case for frippery. I was about to invoke it in that notorious talking-shop the k-punk comments box (vis a vis King Arthur On Ice, as it happens) but instead decided to sniff about and find out where it actually comes from. NO DICE! But the phrase has a perky little life outside its nook in my mind, from the Daily Mirror to the Daily Telegraph. Here are a few of the things that have increased TGOTN:

– the Scottish Arts Council
– Barbara Cartland
– Jazz
– tiny political parties
– the Monarchy (is this what the phrase was coined for?)
– Murray Lachlan Young! (according to Auberon Waugh!!) (somewhere else claimed Waugh coined the phrase – surely not?)
– incidentally Murray Lachlan Young was at Glastonbury, it was in avoiding him that I encountered yesterday’s juggler.
– Sebastian Coe’s affairs
– the Incredible String Band
– four British women getting into the second round of Wimbledon
– Bono
– Posh and Becks (this was the Mirror citation)
– Tara Palmer Tompkinson
– the National Lottery
– the Irish credit unions (Ireland’s gaiety surely at a severe low if this is the case)
– Frankie Howerd (“by making his top hat waggle”)
– Rod Stewart’s love life
– King Crimson

This quick survey suggested that the nation is easily pleased. But then so am I.