There are few things more odious than selling false hope to desperate folk.

But I am seeing ever more evidence of this sad occupation.

I would have posted a blog on the latest new orders figures yesterday, but I was out of the office either in meetings, on the train or socialising with other people who like to talk about statistics and data.

But I am glad I didn't post a bland piece on what amounts to not that much.

Frankly the figures don't really say anything beyond confirming that the industry's order book is shrinking. March was a perkier month for housing, but the work coming through remains at a desperate level. Meanwhile infrastructure continues to shine out as the one positive sectors.

Until we see the breakdown in the size of orders we don't really know whether any perkiness in any sector was down to a big order begin booked in, so - as always - you'll probably not learn much from one month's orders figures.

Taking the past three months together you learn that overall the new work won (we are excluding repair and maintenance here) in the first quarter of 2009 was close to 40% down. That's a bit scary.

Perhaps of more concern is that the public sector non-housing building work really is on the slide. So for those who felt the public purse would provide comfort, this is not reassuring news.

But looked at in the round the March new orders figures were about where you would expect them, no cause for joy and no cause for added gloom.

So why am I glad I didn't post a blog yesterday? Well I probably would have been robbed of an email sent from... I'll save the sender any possible embarrassment and just say someone who does understand the figures. The content of the email was - how should I put it? - astonishment at a dizzyingly positive spin put on the latest new orders figures.

Apart from making me chuckle, I realised that this purveying of "good news" was actually in bad taste.

I know I have been a bit brutal with the bad news over the past year or so, but by way of mitigation I would argue that there appeared to be so many people who were rather over keen to ignore the likelihood that we might be heading for tough times.

And, as I have perhaps too frequently said, if I could be accused of anything in this regard it is to have underplayed the threat and depth of the recession.

So. Let's get it straight here. There is no "good news" in the March orders figures. They carry no real surprises and equally no real bad news (that is news in the sense of being new) as they fit pretty much with the views of most people informed on subject.

Anyone who tries to tell you, or even hints, that the March figures were "good" is, from what I can see, either a snake oil salesman or is badly deluded.

It will not be ignorance, false hope or unfounded confidence that supports the industry in these troubled times. The fate of the industry relies on an honest view of the challenges ahead and an orderly and vigorous approach to meeting those challenges.

And when that challenge is squarely met with good heart and cheerful toil, we can sit down and admire our success with a good brew in our hands...