Straight talking, chaps: the only way is up

Coming back to the UK from France, where I live in a quiet news blackout for 10 days, often makes me think we are a very weird country. Over there, there are problems and a heated debate in the marketplace about how to survive and solve things. Direct action is acceptable, so fishing boats become the front line, cows block the road and it's all quite exciting really.

Here, we talk up a hard time and really enjoy it . Our papers are miserable, people are stoic about misery, politicians talk tough tosh about misery not being good enough. We live and breathe gloom and doom, love the blame and shame. Good news is no news; we twist our lovely language to make negative nonsense sound as if we are taking positive action.

Here's straight talking Ed Balls, knows no limits to his powers over the English language and reality as we know it. Receiving (S'rAllan, actually) the fifth Steer report into the many positive responses to the plague of British bad behaviour in schools, the minister hurriedly lines up with Ofsted in pronouncing the death sentence on anything which is satisfactory.  "Satisfactory is not satisfactory, it's not good enough." says Ed.

I hate to disagree with any man in charge of education, but satisfactory is exactly good enough.  Derivation from French, satisfactoire, it means "good enough to fulfill a need, wish, requirement, etc.; satisfying or adequate" (

You may be getting confused with unsatisfactory, Ed, which is simply not good enough coming from a government minister. If we have behaviour which is good enough, then it is good for learning, not unsatisfactory or inadequate, which is not. Please don't confuse the public by changing the meaning of words. It could get out of hand. Before we know where we are, well bad is the new good. Goats are not goats, they're marmalade. Cheese is now chicken. Politicians are toast. You wish.