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HAPPINESS IS . . . for tennis players, using (Peter Thomas).

For a Mancunian, rain; for a masochist, pain (Alan Ibbotson). A day without a Reader's Digest letter (John O'Byrne). Finding a pounds 1 coin in a supermarket trolley (John Pickin). Finding frogspawn in the pond every year (Liz Quentin).

Being booked for speeding on the M25 (Eric Bridgstock). Being a Miller of the Dee (Bruce Birchall).

It depends on your expectations, argues Toby Beresford: a poor man is happy to have food and warmth; a rich man is unhappy without a country house and yacht . . . For May Hess, a lifelong sufferer from irritable bowel syndrome, it is one good bowel movement a day. Meanwhile, weightwatchers Carole Hawkins and Caroline Arnold rewrite Dickens to read: daily calories expended: 2,000. Daily calories ingested: 1,995. Result: happiness (2,005 calories equals misery.)

Sea, sand, sun and sex (Jane Reeves). Retiring from teaching (R.J. Pickles). Making your own decisions (C. Martin). Putting away the ironing-board (LQ). Waking on Boxing Day, knowing it is all over for another year (Mary Flavin).

Finding a ball-point pen that writes, first time (Paul Turner). Running through a spring meadow in your bare feet (Tina Norman). Birdsong at dawn; a waterfall at dusk; and stillness in between (BB).

Happiness is the silence when you turn off the TV (MF). A pub with no jukebox (F.E. Card). A shopping mall sans Muzak (TN). A ban on mobile phones (AI). Not watching the eclipse (N.E. Gough). Not wanting to buy a lottery ticket (T.M. O'Grady). None of your numbers coming up, when you stop buying lottery tickets (Ian Hurdley). Not having the time to wonder whether you are happy or not (Clair Hubble). Not what you were expecting it to be (Magy Higgs).

Meanwhile, Mike Gifford will insist that Happy Ness is an uncaptured monster cavorting in a Scottish loch!

So what can we conclude? It is a rural idyll? Escape from civilisation? The setting aside of chores and distractions? Unexpected good fortune? Finding contentment? Feeling free? Bursting into song, spontaneously? Finding out what one is on this planet for, and getting on with it? The jury is still out. Maybe it's a hamlet called Cigar . . .

Toby Beresford, Mary Flavin and Peter Thomas each win a copy of Chambers Dictionary of Quotations for their efforts.

As the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness approaches, we now seek imaginative uses for the fruit of the horse-chestnut tree, the humble conker, which is about to carpet a pavement, path or car park near you.

Write to Creativity, Features, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL or e-mail Loki.Valhalla@btinter Results and three all- conquering winners of further Chambers reference books to be announced on 31 August. Next week: unpopular taxes that a foolish government, determined to alienate voters' support, may yet levy.