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This Britain

Minor British Institutions: Punning

How much less fun would a punless Britain be? It's always been fashionable to groan or sneer at plays on words, but that's mostly the envy of the slower classes for their betters with letters. True, Dr Johnson thought they were out of order, but he was a lexicographer.

Punning is the choice of the People: British Hairways, The Grateful Head, Curl Up and Dye, Hair Today, Ali Barbers and such, for example, distinguish many of what they would doubtless call our mane streets. But it's not a game reserved exclusively for the shampoo set.

A lot of puns stem from florists, while fish-and-chip shops fry hard and restaurants don't seem to need any tips: A Salt and Battery, Floral & Hardy, Florist Gump, Blooming Marvellous, Thai Tanic, Wok This Way, and a militaria outlet in Winton, Dorset – Norman D Landings.

We may not be literally a nation of shopkeepers, but we are certainly a nation of literary shopkeepers. Newspapers do it quite a lot, too.