Melanie McDonagh

Melanie McDonagh

Melanie McDonagh is an Irish journalist working in London.

So long to the landline

So Debrett’s has really got behind the latest technology by issuing a guide to the appropriate use of the mobile phone, or rather, ten commandments. The oldies are warned that young people take fright at an unexpected call – text first to see if it’s convenient – and the young are told that they should

Do we really need more diversity on Gardener’s World?

Boo. Monty Don is retiring in a couple of years as presenter of Gardener’s World, because it’s getting to be a slog and a treadmill. But he’s already doing his bit to influence the BBC’s choice of his successor. He told Times Radio that he thought the show needed more diversity – and that the BBC

Should Kyiv really ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church?

The war in Ukraine, which was until 7 October the only foreign news we could think about, is no longer centre stage but is continuing in an increasingly attritional way. And Ukrainian politics continue, inevitably, to be dominated by the war with the result that fundamental freedoms are now a casualty of the conflict. Specifically, there

The best of this year’s children’s books

In some children’s books, nothing much happens. In Roberto Piumini’s Glowrushes (Pushkin Press, £9.99), it’s like this: a father, a great Turkish lord, hires an artist to paint his sick son’s rooms for his 11th birthday, and together the boy and the painter create walls of wondrous imaginary landscapes. It turns out that you don’t

How to make Irish barm brack

Those of us who grew up with a traditional Halloween, that is to say, in Ireland, don’t have much truck with the contemporary version. The pumpkin-coloured, gore and chocolate fest that has come to Britain via the US is gross by comparison; we had a simple version. We dressed up, but in masks and any

Sir Ranulph Fiennes: a living Lawrence of Arabia

Sir Ranulph Fiennes (a third cousin of Ralph, since you ask) has written a book about Lawrence of Arabia. He feels an affinity with him: he too has led Arabs in fighting, in Sir Ranulph’s case, for the Sultan of Oman. ‘I’d been in Arabia, leading Arabs against the Marxist rebels. In Lawrence’s day, the

The sad decline of Disney

Happy Birthday, Disney. A hundred years ago today, Walt and his brother Roy formed the Disney Brothers’ Studio to produce a series of short films based on Alice in Wonderland, a successor to Walt’s original Laugh-O-Gram studio. It helped shape the American imagination and transformed the art of animation. If you meet anyone who actually

There’s nothing conservative about Sunak’s smoking ban

Is Rishi Sunak the least Tory Tory PM ever? He’s fundamentally Californian at heart: witness his terrible policy to ban cigarettes to anyone born from 2009 which was announced to great fanfare at conference.  That’s what contemporary Conservatism has come to: compulsory clean living Fortunately, I belong to the lucky generation that can still kill

Teaching children mindfulness is a waste of time

A friend from Lewisham, south London, reports occasionally on her children’s state school, which has a reputation for being strife- and strike-prone. However, the children themselves – nursery and reception – are engaged in more calming activities. They are doing mindfulness. ‘My son loves it,’ she says. They sit down cross-legged at least once a

James Heale, Svitlana Morenets, Melanie McDonagh and Richard Madeley

28 min listen

This week James Heale describes the mess the Conservative Party has got itself into when selecting its parliamentary candidates (01.17), Svitlana Morenets is in Ukraine witnessing first hand the tragedy of how troops are dying for want of proper medical supplies and training (06.59), Melanie McDonagh discusses the art of kissing and when a kiss

Luis Rubiales and the weirdness of a kiss

A kiss is just a kiss, no? But when it’s Jenni Hermoso, the forward of the victorious Spanish women’s football team, on the receiving end, and the president of the Spanish football federation, Luis Rubiales, doing the kissing, and it’s during the official post-match ceremony in front of an interested global audience… it’s different.  Immediately

Manchester United failed Mason Greenwood

So, the Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood has not been found guilty of the offences of attempted rape and coercive behaviour that he was accused of, but he’s still very sorry for unspecified behaviour that he did engage in.  Have you ever read anything more confusing than the following?  ‘In a statement, Greenwood accepted he

Mason Greenwood

I’m bored of Disney feminism

It is, I know, a bit early to be thinking about 2024, but to help with the forward planning, here’s a film to avoid next year: the Disney release of its new, non-animated, musical version of Snow White. The original animated version of 1937 was a classic if ever there were one. Stewart Steven, the

Spectator Out Loud: James Heale, Melanie McDonagh and Sam McPhail

18 min listen

This week (01.07) James Heale meets the Conservative London Mayoral Candidate, Susan Hall, who is ready and willing to take the fight to Sadiq Khan in next year’s elections, (06.51) Melanie McDonagh examines the effects on children’s publishing as sensitivity readers gain more and more influence and (12.39) Sam McPhail explains why football clubs could

Why does the Beano want to cancel itself?

Let’s hear it for the Beano, 85 years old this week. Lucky readers can get a commemorative issue featuring Charles and Camilla, Dua Lipa and Lewis Hamilton. It’s also a chance for those who haven’t read it for decades to register how much it has changed. Lately, the Bash Street Kids welcomed five classmates: Harsha,

Alan Titchmarsh speaks sense about the ‘rewilding’ craze

Is rewilding, where nature is allowed to take its course, all it’s cracked up to be? Alan Titchmarsh, the nation’s joint favourite gardener along with Monty Don, appears to think not. In an intervention in the House of Lords’ horticultural sector committee inquiry, Titchmarsh said that rewilded gardens are bad news for wildlife. ‘With their

What’s the point of confetti?

All things considered, probably the least of George Osborne’s concerns on the occasion of his second marriage was being showered with orange confetti by a woman apparently sympathetic to the Just Stop Oil protestors. Bingo: a whole new form of protest came into being. What is the whole confetti thing about anyway? You used to