May I have a word about… Goldilocks?

Jonathan Bouquet
A tiger shark: neither too hot, nor too cold. Photograph: Jeff Rotman/Getty Images

The fairy story about Goldilocks is pretty well known to all of us, is it not? Deserted cottage in the forest, young blond housebreaker, three bears, porridge, bed, smashed chairs, recriminations, rapid exit of juvenile malefactor. The end.

All very straightforward and yet the character now turns up in the most unlikely places, not least the city pages of newspapers, where, I discover, the Goldilocks economy describes an economic climate that is not so hot that it causes inflation and not so cold that it causes a recession, which, even to a non-economist like me, makes sense. As does “Rising trade tensions fail to ruffle ‘Goldilocks’ economy as US goes it alone”. And by that yardstick, the news that medical device manufacturer Tandem Diabetes “is entering a ‘Goldilocks period’ of several years” also seems to add up.

If only if things were always so simple. What are we to make of this headline – “In defence of the Goldilocks phone”? Or “The Goldilocks effect: What we can learn from gender perceptions in film”? This, apparently, is when women were described as either incredibly gorgeous or “hot, but not too hot lest they be unattainable”. I’m pretty sure that describing a woman as “hot” infracts many rules these days, but I’ll leave that judgment to superior sticklers. But then things get really complicated with “ ‘Goldilocks’ water temperature for tiger sharks may have implications on future human attacks”. The report suggests that tiger sharks are more likely to be seen in winter on warm tropical beaches but in summer in cooler climates, such as Sydney. That’s all clear then – just dip your toe in the briny before taking the plunge.

Me, I’ll go back to playing the three bears market.