29 May 2013, Posted by Nick in Books, Features, General, Interviews, Journalism, 0 Comments Tagged , , , , ,

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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08 Mar 2013, Posted by Nick in Features, General, Journalism, News, 0 Comments Tagged , , ,

Confused in Venezuela


WATCHING the vast and emotional crowds at the funeral of Hugo Chavez today reminded me of the last time I was in Venezuela - when the masses took to the streets for a very different reason. It was April 2002 and I was heading for the Orinoco delta to write an eco-tourism feature for the Sunday Times, when the news broke that Chavez had been deposed in a coup after mass protests in Caracas. It was a surreal and confusing experience following the turmoil on television from my cabin in the rainforest. Read more [...]
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20 Dec 2012, Posted by Nick in General, Psychology, The writing life, 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Critic Meets Child


Written as encouragement for those taking part in the Safe Space charity Write-athon  * * *  “A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Thomas Mann I laughed with relief when I first heard this wise quotation from the great German novelist. I can never quite relate to those who talk cheerily about the way their work “just flows out”, because the truth is that my first draft often emerges with all the lightness and fluidity of a house brick. Read more [...]
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16 Mar 2012, Posted by Nick in Book Reviews, Features, General, Interviews, Journalism, Spirituality, 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jeanette Winterson interview


One of my favourite books of 2011 was Jeanette Winterson’s memoir Why be Happy When you Could be Normal? So I was delighted to get the opportunity to interview her recently for Third Way Magazine. Anyone familiar with her award-winning Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, in either its novel or BBC TV serial format, will remember the bold landmarks of the writer’s thinly-disguised autobiography: the terrifying adoptive mother, the gospel mission tent, the collision of lesbianism with fundamentalism. What’s Read more [...]
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06 Mar 2012, Posted by Nick in General, Spirituality, Urban Worrier, 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Start Clowning Around


Not so long ago, I signed up for a clowning workshop called “Spring Fool” (www.thefoolstory.com). It was one of a series of adventures in the lost art of letting go (later chronicled in my book Urban Worrier), and I comforted myself that it couldn’t possibly be any scarier than wingwalking on a bi-plane. But actually, clowning turned out to be uncannily similar to diving at 150mph towards the ground, in a psychological sense at least. Clowns, I discovered, die and resurrect themselves many Read more [...]
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28 Nov 2011, Posted by Nick in General, Interviews, Journalism, Parenting, Spirituality, 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A chat with Annie Lennox


I’ve long admired Annie Lennox, both for the gutsy emotional honesty of her music and her commitment to human rights campaigning (not to mention my Eighties nostalgia for all those insanely danceable Eurythmics riffs). So when I got the chance to interview her for the December issue of Third Way magazine, I decided to dig a little deeper to find out what has shaped her philosophy of life. Here are some of my favourite moments from our 70-minute conversation… In 1984, you were married briefly Read more [...]
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13 Oct 2011, Posted by Nick in General, Parenting, Spirituality, 0 Comments

When White Lies Won’t Work


First published on the Fathers' Network Scotland Website “Daddy?” “Yes, love?” Story time is over, and the lights are out - but I’ve noticed my six-year-old son often uses his last waking moments to bowl me the kind of question that might stump a philosophy graduate. Past belters have included: Is the Evil Vilgax (from Ben 10) really evil, or just listening to his naughty part? What is Charlie (our cocker spaniel) thinking about when he stares? Or what happens to us when we Read more [...]
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04 Oct 2011, Posted by Nick in General, Spirituality, 0 Comments

Paradoxical Commandments


Check out this great song by the Roches. Apparently it comes from a list of "paradoxical commandments" first penned by a guy called Kent Keith and since adopted by folks ranging from Steven Covey to Mother Theresa. Stick them on your computer for those days that feel as if you're pushing rocks up hill...  Anyway People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, People may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If Read more [...]
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04 Aug 2011, Posted by Nick in Broadcasting, Features, General, Journalism, 0 Comments

How life became radio drama


  BBC link to This Solitary Bird Not long after my friend Will McMillan passed away in 2005 (see The Saving Grace), I began to consider writing about him. His angry public outbursts were no secret, but I knew a much deeper, more generous man too and wanted to commemorate his short but vigorous life. I remembered many conversations, often surprising to both of us, which lent themselves to drama - particularly the intimate, intense medium of radio drama. But I had no prior experience Read more [...]
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03 Aug 2011, Posted by Nick in Broadcasting, Features, General, Journalism, 0 Comments Tagged , , , ,

The Saving Grace


Journalist Nick Thorpe tells of the inspiration for his new play - an unexpected friendship formed at the margins of society. When I first saw Will McMillan, he was wearing a battered overcoat, a silk cravat and a frown which hung like forked lightning above the storm cloud of his beard. He struck me as just the kind of man I would instinctively avoid in the street. As a cub reporter, newly arrived in Edinburgh from London, it fell to me as a kind of rite of passage to field the latest “story Read more [...]
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