Melanie McDonagh

Melanie McDonagh

Melanie McDonagh is an Irish journalist working in London.

Why Gillian Keegan is right to scrap the free school cap

The other day a nice Albanian builder came round. He was in an upbeat mood because his son had been admitted to Cardinal Vaughan, a London school for which the optimum Ofsted rating of ‘outstanding’ probably doesn’t suffice. The school has got one of the best heads in England in Paul Stubbings, a choir, the

The young are missing out on a proper breakfast

More proof, if it were needed, of the gastronomic generation gap. It seems one in ten young persons has never had a full English/Irish/whatever cooked breakfast and one in five only has it once a year. They are, of course, missing out on one of the pleasures of life. The cooked breakfast and afternoon tea

How the shamrock became the symbol of St Patrick’s Day

St Patrick’s Day is coming up and you know what that means… a Shamrock Shake at Starbucks, featuring those well-known Irish ingredients vanilla, mint and green tea. And then there’s the Paddy’s Day merch: shamrocks again. If the Princess of Wales as Colonel of the Irish guards turns up to celebrate the day, she’ll be

Irish voters have refused to erase the family

It’s not been a particularly good weekend for the political establishment in Ireland. Two constitutional changes have been rejected by the electorate, despite being backed by all the mainstream parties – Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, Greens, Sinn Fein – plus the usual pundits and something called the National Women’s Council (a quango which is

Menopausal women shouldn’t be treated differently

Granted, I could be a beneficiary of the latest guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) about women going through the menopause. It advises employers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for women who experience symptoms such as broken sleep, brain fog and hot flushes (viz, most of us). This includes possibly relaxing uniform requirements,

Why is John Lewis selling sex toys?

Well, for the Waitrose classes, it seems you can get all the accessories for middle class eroticism at John Lewis. The store has started selling sex merchandise and the good news is that there’s been a restock this week for Valentine’s Day, which used to be sacred to roses, Charbonnel et Walker chocolates and scent

Sadiq Khan’s dreadful new Overground line names

By and large the London transport system is pretty unremarkable in terms of names. Unlike the Paris metro on which stops are sometimes named after battles (like Sébastopol) or individuals (Franklin D Roosevelt) a line or a stop in the London network is normally noncommittal. The Northern line, self-explanatory; the Metropolitan for the oldest line.

How to get through Lent

Well, it’s a pig of a coincidence to have Ash Wednesday coinciding with Valentine’s Day. So, at the start of Lent, on the very day that traditionalists are allowed one light meal and two collations – basically less of everything and no meat – you’re meant to be celebrating the love stuff, always supposing you’re

Is Caroline Nokes really a Conservative?

Quite a number of people have been asking what Caroline Nokes MP is doing in the Conservative party after her very odd appearance on Newsnight on Thursday. She was meant to be discussing the asylum status of Abdul Ezedi, the sole suspect in the horrific Clapham alkali attack which left a mother with life-altering injuries

Enough with the King’s prostate

How very nice that the King is now out of hospital, back home and, will, we are told, soon be back in business with his red boxes. Is it too much to hope that we can be spared further updates on his condition?  ‘All Hail the King’s Prostate Honesty’. Oh yuck. Can we stop? We

Alabama’s nitrogen gas execution is indefensible

Let’s park for a moment the morality of the death penalty. You know what you think. It’s one of those issues that is as divisive as it gets, and along all the predictable lines. It’s the method that exercises me. Last night, Alabama executed Kenneth Smith by the administration of nitrogen gas. Smith, who murdered

Why are doctors being threatened for reporting late-term abortions?

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) this week threatened to use punitive measures against doctors who report late-term abortions to the police.  Normally, medics have to respect patient confidentiality, but they can report individuals if it’s in the public interest. But now the college is saying in its latest guidance that any medic who

Melanie McDonagh

Everyone should eat venison

Well, lucky little tiny tots at Top Days nurseries in Hampshire and Dorset. It’s Bambi on the menu for them now that the organisation running the schools has teamed up with the Eat Wild company, which promotes wild meats, to introduce venison into school lunches. They’re rolling out five dishes featuring venison, including deer mince

Why the Children’s Word of the Year makes me feel sad

Along with the Oxford University Press Word of the Year – usually something you’d never say yourself – and the Pantone Colour of the Year (seriously, has anyone ever asked for a revolting shade called Peach Fuzz?) there is rather an interesting index of our annual concerns: the Children’s Word of the Year. The exercise

In search of the perfect chocolate cake

What Victoria is to a jam sponge, so is Sacher to chocolate cake. It’s a man, a hotel and a cake and, indeed, shorthand for a city. The lines of people outside the Sacher Hotel café in Vienna for chocolate cake with whipped cream on the side are looking for a Viennese experience, like schnitzel, Strauss waltzes

Just Say No to abstinence this January

Today’s a day for waltzes from Vienna and loafing around on one of the three days of the year when people actually stop work. But tomorrow, it’s going to be business as usual – only worse. The retail sector goes all glum on 2 January. It’s out with the party food, the charcuterie platters, port and anything featuring

When will the BBC’s Julia Donaldson obsession end?

The BBC thinks it wouldn’t be Christmas without an adaptation of a Julia Donaldson book. This is another dispiriting example of the invention of a faux Christmas tradition. This year, it’s the turn of Tabby McTat, a story about a musical cat and a busker, which will be broadcast this afternoon. This isn’t the first time