Melanie McDonagh

Melanie McDonagh

Melanie McDonagh is an Irish journalist working in London.

What’s wrong with calling a female walker ‘sweetheart’?

So, another place where men have to mind their language: on mountains. In an article in Scottish Mountaineer magazine by one Dr Richard Tiplady, he advises male walkers never to call women ‘sweetheart’ or ‘darling’. They should not assume that women can’t read a map. ‘If they ask for advice about kit or their route, be

Why Lakeland beats John Lewis

In these febrile times, there is one place to take refuge and that is in the Lakeland catalogue. Change and decay in all around I see, as John Henry Newman observed, but at Lakeland there is still a universe where you can conquer the perennial problem of taking the tops off strawberries, so tricky if

Scotland’s religious collapse

Last week, I had a drink with a Catholic priest friend who works with young people in custody. Inevitably, our talk turned to how radically unchurched they are – not badly disposed to Christianity, just unfamiliar with much of the doctrine and almost all the forms of worship, even though many had a Catholic granny

Woman’s Hour has a diversity problem

On the bright side, Nuala McGovern isn’t Emma Barnett, she of the combative approach to broadcasting. The new presenter of Woman’s Hour is a bright, cheerful experienced broadcaster. She’s Irish, spent time in Italy and America, and has lived and worked in the UK for many years. She covered for Emma B when she was on maternity

‘No mow May’ isn’t long enough

There’s one way of getting the look of the Chelsea Flower show winner, Ula Maria’s forest bathing garden, and that’s not to mow your lawn but let the flowers and long grass spring up. ‘This is not,’ I would say austerely to the neighbours if they hang over the wall to suggest a man who

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