LITTLE, BROWN, £13.99 Order for £12.59 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Urban Worrier, By Nick Thorpe
An angsty adventurer hits home
Tuesday 14 June 2011
We've all been there. Some of us still are there. Nick Thorpe had been there more than most: never loosening up. As a child he was always sorting his Lego into colour-coded boxes. As a young adult, he thought his girlfriend called him "an urban warrior", but she had in fact said "worrier". She soon became an ex-girlfriend.
Later, a happily married freelance journalist, he suddenly screeched to a halt in front of his computer: "I realised that the struggle to control my life had become a war against myself. I decided to spend a year learning to loosen up."
Urban Worrier, his "adventures in the lost art of letting go", chronicles a breathtaking year of: consulting a life coach; "tombstone jumping" into the Cornish sea; sitting on the wing of a biplane at 150mph; red-nosed clowning in the streets of Edinburgh; and entering the Garden of Eden, or rather the Eden Project, in the company of busloads of fellow-nudists. It is also a year in which his mother has breast cancer and he and his wife apply to adopt a child. These very adult themes make a counterpoint to his attempts to chill out.
He gazes into the eyes of New Agers. He takes off in a balloon over the New Mexico desert. He floats downriver on a raft in Sweden and scuba-dives, panicking, in the clear waters of the Indian Ocean. In Durban, he meets a saintly surfer who works with street kids in an area where the tourist authority advises: "Don't stop at a body... drive on."
He attends the No Mind (as opposed to mindless) Festival, where he sees a man swinging upside down from a rope like "an incompetent fruit bat". Although Thorpe does not join this particular fruit battiness, he is an agreeable cove and does his bit in New Age activities. Yet his freshest prose is sparked off by an age-old practice, a silent retreat in a monastery during which he takes the silence so seriously that he objects to a resident monk starting up a conversation. (Incidentally, many of the galumphing conversations could have done with some heavy urban editing.)
Eventually, a moderate chilled-out factor is achieved. On a good day he now brings a truce to his mental civil war. Failing that, he "lets go of letting go". And the conclusion to his adoption saga brings a tear to the eye of any parent – certainly this inner parent.
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
Fast & Furious 7 overtakes Frozen to become 5th highest grossing movie of all time
Poldark, series 1 finale, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show film
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'