It's Essential to be Special

You have to feel for the word 'special'. Once it meant somewhere between, 'yeah, pretty good' and 'wow, great', but now, it is almost an insult. That's thanks mainly to Barrack Obama and David Cameron, who have upgraded Britain and America's relationship from 'special' to 'essential'.

To be fair to the leaders of the free world, probably the rot started for Special when they called kids with a whole range of serious educational issues 'Special Needs' and then schools that had bad exam results were put on the ominous-sounding 'Special Measures'.

That made Britain and America's legendary 'special relationship' smell a bit iffy, like it needed a hotshot management guru and an understanding councillor to sort it out. With 'essential' there is no such doubt: we're two can-do guys who just gotta do what guys gotta do, like shoot some special measures down Colonel Gadaffi's throat.

Either Michelle Obama isn't in the loop or there's trouble ahead for Islington's Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school. "You are all so very special," she told some of its students this week. "I knew I had come to a very special place".