15 Aug 2018, Posted by Nick.

Is relaxation over-rated?

HAS anyone ever told you to “chill out”? If you’re anything like me, this injunction creates the opposite effect – intense irritation, followed perhaps by shame that I haven’t yet mastered the art of inner peace. But recently I’ve noticed I’m getting more relaxed about tension. While low-level stress rightly gets a bad rap, I’d like to give alertness its due. A few weeks ago at the airport, for example, I was so determined to chill out about a 90-minute flight delay that I almost Read more [...]

01 Mar 2018, Posted by Nick.

Drawn to Dance

NICK THORPE tries a novel way to let go of perfection and embrace the messy moshing of collaborative art. Recently I learned to sketch with my feet. It was one of several unusual skills I acquired at Drawn to Dance - a bizarre and exhilarating two-day experiment in which twenty of us gathered in a converted barn to find out what happens when you mix dancing and drawing. What was most challenging at the outset was not so much learning to grip a charcoal stick between my toes using a rubber Read more [...]

13 Feb 2018, Posted by Nick.

The leather cathedral

I once met a man who had built a cathedral out of leather. He showed it to me reverently in his back room – a two-foot-tall, perfectly-stitched gothic replica, enshrined on a carpet of rabbit-fur, complete with spires and buttresses and delicate snakeskin windows lit from within by coloured lights. “I started it eight years ago to show that with leather you can do anything," explained Peter, a former hippy who earned his living selling belts and other more recognisable handicrafts in the Read more [...]

19 May 2017, Posted by Nick.

A life-changing friendship

First published in The Porch Magazine In memory of my dear friend and colleague, DAVID DRYSDALE, who inspires me daily to embrace who I am and live life as a gift. I FIRST met David Drysdale in the year of my 40th birthday, at a time when being a man still felt to me like a guilty admission. As father of a newly adopted son, I was determined to defy gender stereotypes and throw myself joyfully into shared parenting, but I found the exhausting front-line reality was triggering all kinds Read more [...]

07 Dec 2014, Posted by Nick.

Michel Faber interview


The novelist Michel Faber talks about his new book, his Evangelical background, atheism, and the loss of his wife.

ARRIVING to interview Michel Faber, I feel awestruck and slightly puzzled.

06 Nov 2014, Posted by Nick.

My Adoption Journey

In National Adoption Week, NICK THORPE reflects on the most challenging and fulfilling experience of his life... MONTHS before we met our son for the first time, I knew in my gut that I wanted to be his dad. The description from the social worker chimed for both of us: “A lively, sociable three-year-old with a sunny personality and a streak of mischief, C loves to talk about his feelings and listen to story books…” My wife and I put in our application, made a DVD to introduce ourselves, Read more [...]

03 Mar 2014, Posted by Nick.

The Love of Stuff

The problem with our society is not that it values material things too much but that it doesn’t value them enough FROM AEON MAGAZINE On my desk stands a miniature of an Easter Island moai, carved for me by a Rapa Nui craftsman. It’s precious to me, hewn from the same stone his ancestors used for the world-famous monoliths, textured with the tiny air-bubbles of millennia-old lava, and carrying memories of the friends I made on my voyage there. On another level, however, it’s also an uneasy Read more [...]

30 Oct 2013, Posted by Nick.

Sorcerers’ Tales

RENATO Cardenas lives alone in a bleached wooden house, shielded by pine trees and the kind of mysterious smile you might expect from a wizard. Not that he will admit to being a wizard. "I've heard that people call me El Brujo Cardenas," is all he will concede, tantalisingly, as he ushers us inside, amusement twitching at the corners of his pointed grey beard. He has good reason to be reticent. According to the luxuriant folklore of Chiloe, this mist-shrouded archipelago a few miles and Read more [...]

27 Sep 2013, Posted by Nick.

Exploring Dangerous Truths

Great to see John Rae finally getting the recognition he deserves on his 200th birthday.  Never heard of him?  Me neither, until I came across the story of Britain’s most undervalued Arctic explorer a few years ago in Orkney. Born in Stromness, Dr Rae's accomplishments tower above those of many of his more famous Victorian contemporaries. Starting his career as a surgeon with the Hudson Bay Company, he was the first to identify the last link in the elusive Northwest Passage between Atlantic Read more [...]

29 May 2013, Posted by Nick.

A Quiet Hero

You've probably never heard of Sir John Crofton, but if you value your lungs, you should certainly toast him. It was Crofton, half a century ago, who discovered the first 100 per cent cure for the age-old scourge of tuberculosis. Crofton, too, who pioneered the global method currently being used to fight terrifying new drug-resistant strains on Europe’s doorstep. With his campaigning doctor wife, Eileen, he also laid 30 years of groundwork for Britain’s first smoking ban in Scotland. And Read more [...]
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