The edge - Amanda Platell hails Jamie's old-fashioned virtues

Ulrika's marriage was in trouble for less time, no doubt, than it took to plan her deals with glossy

When news of million-to-one triplets mum Natalie Scanlan broke, it was as inevitable as teething that this teenage single mother raised on a council estate and now living in her own council home would come in for criticism. The father, Daniel Gaffney, 20, whom Natalie, now 17, refers to as "that asshole", abandoned her before the girls were born, just as he had left two girls before when they became pregnant. No surprise, then, that he has never paid a penny in maintenance to any of his five children, and has no intention of doing so despite a £65,000 compensation windfall. To do so would be to jeopardise their "social".

There was outrage when Daniel tried to sell his side of the story for £20,000.

A few days later, celebrity Ulrika Jonsson splits up with her second husband after two years of marriage and 17 months after the birth of their child - her third child to one of three different men.

We talk of modern morality tales, but is the Natalie Scanlan saga any worse than a serial celebrity who wrote a book selling her secret affairs and a past "rape" in a desperate attempt to boost her flagging career? Who met her husband on a reality TV show? Who flogged her thinking-of-wedding pictures to OK! magazine, and who has the audacity to say the children are her first concern? Ulrika says her marriage had its problems "for several months" - less time, no doubt, than she took planning her deals with glossy magazines.

The commentators dismiss Natalie and Daniel as lowlife, but they are merely following the example set by their celebrity role models, women like Ulrika Jonsson.

If I were Mrs Straw, I'd be on the first plane to Alabama to break up the Jack and Condi love-in. We already have a PM who plays poodle to the president. Do we really need a foreign secretary lapdog to the secretary of state as well?

He's already proved himself the vilest man to ever break an egg, now he demonstrates he is also the most stupid. Gordon Ramsay says that young British women "know how to mix cocktails but can't cook to save their lives" and are lagging behind the men who are "finding their way into the kitchen in ever-growing numbers". I do not know a single woman who considers cocktail-mixing an essential part of her repertoire. Saying the number of men who cook is on the rise is as convincing as saying the England women's cricket team is gaining supporters.

And Ramsay overlooks the all-important difference between himself and most women: cooking is the one thing he does - except behaving like a foul-mouthed, bullying bore. He cooks for a living. We cook for life.

Postscripts from the Edge . . .

- MPs are up in arms over news that Cherie Blair is the first Prime Minister's consort being chauffeured around in an armoured car for her protection. Give her a break. She's the first PM's partner who needed it.

- Instead of its successful 2005 charity calendar, the Today programme is this year selling £12.50 eggcups for its Christmas appeal. The website contains pictures of the Today trio clutching the lookalike eggcups. Jim Naughtie looks like the gangster dad of EastEnders' Phil Mitchell; Sarah Montague does a double for a Princess Diana catalogue doll; and John Humphrys, well, he could sue.

- My mother, a latter-day Anglican, says of the life-enhancing priests she has known that "the Lord comes in with them". Listening to the first black Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, so lovingly describe how his faith helps him deal with the racist hate mail he receives, I got the feeling he and Jesus have been doing a marvellous double act for some time.

- The much-slated Jamie Oliver restaurant Fifteen, set up to help provide disadvantaged kids with confidence and a career, has made its first profit after just three years, a result many new businesses would be proud of. First Fifteen, then Jamie's School Dinners - there's something wonderfully old-fashioned and philanthropic about that young man.

This article first appeared in the 31 October 2005 issue of the New Statesman, Democracy and demons