Mary Dejevsky

Mary Dejevsky is a writer, broadcaster, and former foreign correspondent in Moscow, Paris and Washington.

How hard is it to design a hotel room?

I belong to a generation of foreign correspondents whose first move, on entering a hotel room, was not to turn down the bed or to check (hopefully) for hot water, but to examine the phone, screwdriver in hand. Could you detach it from its socket? Could you open it up to get at the wiring?

The Assange compromise leaves a lot to be desired

Stella Assange’s elation was palpable, after what she has described as a whirlwind 72 hours. She was speaking to the BBC in Australia, where she was waiting to be reunited with her husband, the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had just been freed from prison in the UK under a three-way deal between the UK, the

Pensioners should do national service

When Rishi Sunak proposed national service for 18-year-olds as the first big idea of his election campaign, my initial thought was: absolutely, bring it on. But then I had a second thought, which was that if Sunak was trying to boost the Conservative vote, rather than the nation’s preparedness, his big idea probably wasn’t going

A crackdown on bad cyclists can’t come soon enough

Doesn’t it sound wonderful? The police are eyeing a device that could immobilise electric bikes and electric scooters in a split second by zapping them with pulses fired from special backpacks. The prospect conjures up an image of righteous ‘ghostbusters’ – as per the 1980s sci-fi film – able to stop the new breed of motorised troublemakers in

The concerning sickness of NHS staff

If you have been to the cinema recently and arrived in time for the adverts, you may already know what I am talking about. Somewhere between promotions for mega-burgers in glorious technicolour and exotic holiday destinations, you are plunged into what seems an endless, but is actually only a two-minute, horror flick, entitled ‘Sicker than

Britain’s roads are becoming a Soviet nightmare

In the dog days of 2021, I spent a grey Sunday afternoon driving around a part of London with a view to an eventual flat move. Why take the car? Because the bus routes didn’t match where I planned to go, I wanted to stay over ground, and I would be able to cover more

Could Assange be freed?

What could be the final act in the long-running drama of Julian Assange’s legal battles has opened at the High Court in London. The two-day hearing is considering the Wikileaks founder’s appeal for a review of his extradition to the United States, which was given the go-ahead two years ago and approved by the then-Home

Hit SUV drivers where it hurts: in the pocket

Heavier cars will soon be hit with higher parking fees. Good. As an urban pedestrian and a car driver, I have two groups of enemies. The first are dark-clad cyclists and scooterists who weave invisibly around other traffic as they ignore their own expensively-made lanes. The other are the drivers of so-called sports utility vehicles

The depressing truth about January birthdays

You can change practically anything about yourself these days, from your appearance through to your gender. But one thing remains practically immutable: your birthday. And here some of us are markedly less fortunate than others, as those of us who made our entry into the world in early January well know. Having a birthday at this

Why the law on assisted dying must change

Esther Rantzen’s decision to join the campaign to legalise assisted dying, in the light of uncertainty about her cancer prognosis, has rekindled and broadened a debate that has been simmering for many years.  Talking on the latest BBC Today podcast, Rantzen disclosed that she had recently joined Dignitas, the Swiss organisation that helps people who are terminally

Is a national Holocaust memorial still a good idea?

Whatever the fate of the ceasefire and hostage exchange between Israel and Hamas, the latest conflict in the Middle East is reverberating far beyond the region. Recent weeks have seen hundreds of thousands of people march through European and American cities in support of either side. Flag-waving protesters were out in London again this weekend:

Flat-footed: welcome to the floorboard wars

Jarndyce vs Jarndyce, this wasn’t – at least not yet – and it probably passed much of the country by, especially given the rival distractions of recent weeks. It was nonetheless a lawsuit that will have been followed in compulsive detail by at least two groups of people: those who own their own flats –

The NHS problem that can’t be solved with money

Earlier this year, I wrote, out of a mixture of bewilderment and frustration, about my experience as a novice in-patient at what is widely regarded as one of London’s premier teaching hospitals. I had been admitted with a badly broken ankle, and the result was three stays of just a few days each over the course

Can the BBC World Service really go on like this?

The BBC has launched what it is calling an ‘urgent investigation’ into six journalists and a freelancer working for its Arabic-language service over accusations they had shown anti-Israel bias in their coverage and expressed support on social media for Hamas. They were said to have called the attacks that killed more than 1,400 Israelis ‘a

Why can’t I simply book a swim?

It shames me to admit this, but I haven’t been near a public swimming pool for many a year. Hotel pools, yes; the sea – occasionally, in parts of the world with predictable warmth. But I have resisted the new wave of ‘wild’ swimming and was never a regular – to be honest even an

20mph isn’t plenty: the war on motorists has gone too far

‘Absolutely insane’ is the verdict of Penny Mordaunt MP on the Welsh government’s introduction of a 20mph speed limit on residential roads. Having driven along not a few residential roads in Welsh towns and cities earlier this year, I can only agree, with one caveat. There are quite a few places in Wales, and not

The trouble with supermarket self checkouts

Finishing my latest mini-shop at my closest mini-supermarket, I witnessed something I hadn’t seen before. A couple who had used the self-checkouts were stopped at the exit by a staff member who asked to see inside their (store-branded) plastic bag. The customers obliged without demur and a half-smile sent them on their way. But it

What we don’t know about the suspected Bulgarian spies

As a British former foreign correspondent in Moscow and Washington, there are few subjects I turn to with more trepidation than spying, and specifically the Russian variety. On the one hand, there is the 007 factor – the glamour, the martinis, and the derring-do – which colours perceptions on both sides. On the other is the

What’s behind Zelensky’s latest purge?

President Zelensky has announced that he is dismissing the heads of all Ukraine’s regional military recruitment offices and replacing them with veterans who had served on the front line. He used a video address to say that a state investigation had turned up widespread corruption, including bribe-taking and help for draft dodgers to flee abroad. 

Ulez and the limit of Sadiq Khan’s power

That the Conservatives retained the west London seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, albeit by a whisker, has been put down to a single issue: the London Mayor’s plan to extend the ultra low emissions zone to the outer boroughs, to take effect at the end of next month. A legal challenge is currently in