Word of the week

Word of the week: Goldilocks

You remember Goldilocks. She turned up at the Three Bears’ house, ate their porridge, sat in their chairs, tried to sleep in each of their beds. I like the way that Goldilocks has now become an adjective. We live on a Goldilocks planet. Earth is a Goldilocks planet. Scientists are looking for other Goldilocks planets that could support complex life forms: not too hot, not too cold, just right.

I also like the way that Goldilocks can be used to answer any question to which the answer is “Yes”. Ordinarily I’m very keen to answer questions, wherever possible, with a “Yes” or a “No” (or “That all depends” if the answer isn’t clear-cut). But I grew up with the response “Is the Pope Catholic?” in place of a “Yes”, so am fond of variants, such as “Is the Pope Polish?” (which was appropriate during John Paul II’s pontificate). These days it would be “Is the Pope Argentine?” or, to get back to the subject of this piece, “Does Goldilocks like porridge?”

A variant on the name also provides the answer to my favourite children’s joke of recent years: “What’s green and likes porridge?” Answer: Mouldilocks.

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