MUCH of my life has been a story of two distinct sides… personal and professional.
Childhood sexual abuse, two battles with cancer; the death of my best friend and later my father; more failed relationships than you care to shake a stick at; bankruptcy; the suicide of a family member; the loss of two of my children; the repossession of my home; discovering one wife was enjoying sex with another man; becoming a single parent, an unprovoked assault that almost took my life anyway; and finally a nervous breakdown in 2013.
Set against that backdrop there is a star-spangled career in journalism with a raft of awards and recognition at the highest level, the chance to meet many stellar people, an honorary doctorate in written journalism and an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons praising my investigative skills. And latterly the writing and editing of six diverse books of fact, fiction and poetry.
So while my personal life has been a rollercoaster of pain, my professional life as a writer, editor and publisher has been my rock.
But last week, my personal and professional personas collided in a metaphorical train wreck, just as a seven week pro-bono publishing venture reached its conclusion – ie the book was published!
I won’t bore readers with a blow-by-blow account, but in a nutshell:
I handed over the final manuscript of a book to a trusted friend for e-publication, then 36 hours after publication that same person took the book down from its publishing platform, blaming me for her actions.
I still find myself reeling from what happened.
Naturally, many knives were drawn against me as the responsible editor and publisher. But what really hurt is what then followed… a quite sinister campaign of lies, innuendo, disinformation and blame. And at the back of this an ongoing smear against my honesty and my character.
In the words of my great friend Sara Salyers:
“Whispered accusations behind the back of the accused, rather than a clear and evidenced case are a sure sign that a speculative and inauthentic profile is being constructed in the shadows from which it cannot be challenged because it is protected from the light of day.”
I have no intention of rallying against those whispers, but I do wish all my professional clients and colleagues to know who I really am.
My real friends and colleagues over the past 40 years know me well. This is what a few of them have written… this is the real me:
I first met Nic when we worked together for the YTS scheme in the mid-1980s; training teenagers to get employment. Nic had a teaching role. He was married and the loving father of a young family.
Over the years some may have assumed that Nic’s easy-going personality was a weakness, but this was not the case. Perhaps some were jealous of Nic’s character and may have felt inadequate. Perhaps because of this, they tried to make Nic look bad to make themselves look better.
Nic has admitted to faults but has always been a family man and wanted to be there as a father for his children. Everyone makes mistakes but many do not admit to them publicly in social media. Nic is a good and kind man.
JA (known Nic for 32 years)
I met Nic in the summer of 2016 through Momentum and his blogs. We went on to meet and become friends. Nic is a very decent, honest and genuine human being, which is very rare nowadays.
AA (known Nic for 18 months)
Nic is a great editor and it was one of my life pleasures to work with him. When I was having deep work-related problems, he was the first person I turned to. At work he was inspirational, and out-of-work he is a great family man who adores his children.
Nic and his wife Gill became close personal friends of my husband Alex and me and we have stayed at each other’s houses many times.
AB (known Nic for 7 years)
I’ve known Nic for five years, meeting him as the father of one of my son’s best friends, and now we are friends in our own right. Nic has many qualities that I admire, which include being thoughtful, caring, loving, and a very talented writer. Nic is a kind and loving father to Nathan, who in return is growing into a very polite and thoughtful young man. I’d like to say not a day goes by without him thinking of all of his kids, but it’s probably more likely to be not an hour.
CB (known Nic for 5 years)
I have known Nic first as a work colleague and then as a friend.
Nic is a compassionate and very fair man who has endured much in his life. What Nic has come through would have crippled most other people. The fact that he has come through it with such little resentment and such a sunny disposition says it all.
I am so proud that I am a friend of his and in my eyes he is a hero.
KB (known Nic for 9 years)
I have known Nic personally for many years through our common love of Brighton and Hove Albion FC. In short Nic is a fantastic guy, gentle and compassionate and extremely funny. I hope it all works out for him.
AB (known Nic for 14 years)
Nic and I met at college when we were both still teenagers and have kept in touch ever since. We both have great pride in swapping news about how our respective children have grown and developed.
Nic has always had a funny and quirky personality. I can still remember him reading his election speech at Poly with his pants on the outside of his trousers and a knotted hanky on his head. The memory of it still makes me laugh.
Nic does not suffer fools but neither does he exhibit any rash or violent temper.
Nic is now, as he was at 19, a caring, honest, considerate and sensitive man, passionately opposed to social injustice and whose deep and abiding love for his children is absolutely apparent.
I am proud to be his friend.
JB (known Nic for 42 years)
Nic gave me my first job in journalism in 2007. I can without hesitation say he is the best editor I could have wished for.
Over the years Nic and I became friends and I have found him to be someone I could rely on if I had a problem as he always made time for his friends and staff even when he was busy or in difficulty himself.
As for Nathan, I just don’t know how Nic managed to bring up a child on his own while working full-time as a newspaper editor.
CB (known Nic for 11 years)
I worked alongside Nic for six months and he is one of the most earnest, helpful and trustworthy colleagues I have ever known. Gregarious, kind and immensely talented, he commands results using a fair and approachable management style. His sunny nature and sharp wit lit up the newsroom and it was both a pleasure and delight to work alongside him.
SC (known Nic for 6 years)
Nic is an outstanding editor, teacher and friend. I worked for him for two years between 2008 and 2010. I feel very privileged to have been part of his editorial team. His enthusiasm is infectious and it encouraged me to unearth some great stories and push myself to new limits. Nic will always be someone I continue to turn to for help and advice.
AF (known Nic for 10 years)
I met and worked for Nic between 1998 and 1999. I got to know him and his then partner Alvilde on a personal and friendly basis.
Nic is a unique editor who gave confidence and inspiration to many aspiring journalists. More than that, he is a lovely guy.
PF (known Nic for 20 years)
I have known Nic for around 13 years, via our mutual love of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club. In all this time, I have seen his devotion to Nathan, often in the face of great difficulty, to be unswerving, with the soul of a man who loves his son dearly. He is a genuinely lovely man, full of wit, passion and care.
IH (known Nic for 14 years)
Nic is a wonderful mentor and teacher and an editor I would willingly move hundreds of miles to work for him again. He is also a warm and compassionate human being and an amazing father to his lovely son Nathan. In a nutshell: he is just amazing.
LH (known Nic for 8 years)
I have known Nic for 11 years. We met when he did pro bono PR work for my former band Tiny Tin Lady. I have stayed at Nic’s house many times over the ensuing years and he has become my soul-mate.
Nic is an awesome father to Nathan and a lovely human being. He is one of my best friends in the world.
HH (known Nic for 11 years)
I consider myself to be a very good judge of character. This opinion of myself has come about through many years of observing the consequences of my decisions based on the judgements I make. Mostly I have been right, and my awareness of other people has enabled me to almost instantly know if someone is going to be trouble, or enjoys harming other people, or is lying to me or trying to manipulate me in any way.
Nic is a sensitive, kind and intelligent man, who wants to live in a world that values peacefulness, equality and compassion.
AI (known Nic for 18 months)
I first met Nic while working for NWN Media. I think it was probably our passion for football that got us talking (he is B&HAFC and me it’s Chester).
It was always a pleasure to chat with him as a happy bloke who never seemed to have a problem with anyone or anything. He hid the agony of his family problems well.
Subsequently we have become good friends with a shared love of music and footy. He has always been kind even in his darkest hours and even appreciated my bad jokes.
Even though Nic lives some miles away I consider him a close friend and would happily welcome him to my home or holiday home in mid Wales, where I spend a lot of time with my wife and extended family of foster children and pets. I hope he finds the inner strength and peace that he deserves.
JL (known Nic for 12 years)
I first worked with Nic in 1993. I also met Dilla – this was before they had their two daughters. Our paths crossed again at The Scotsman in 1996. We became good friends and I socialised with both Nic and Dilla over the following year. I visited their home in Haddington and saw at first hand his wonderful parenting of Rhia and Shannon.
I can say in all honesty that Nic is a kind, funny and a very gentle man.
VM (known Nic for 25 years)
I need to thank Nic for his support over the last three years – he is a star! I’ve come to value his kindness, honesty, and integrity greatly.
SM (known Nic for 8 years)
Nic is my husband and the love of my life so maybe I’m biased! He’s thoughtful, a bit wacky sometimes, he talks in his sleep and when he’s not quoting from Dylan songs or talking at ghosts, he’s talking lovingly about his family, those that live with him and those that are absent. He’s kind, caring and hugs those he loves as often as he can. He’s intelligent, knows what is happening in the world and refuses to read the Daily Mail. So I think that makes him fairly awesome.
GO (known Nic for 6 years)
I have only known Nic a short time through our mutual socialist beliefs and membership of the local Momentum branch.
I have to say, I believe Nic to be a thoughtful, caring and gentle soul who wants a just, equal, and caring society.
ER (known Nic for 18 months)
Nic is insightful and generous. His passion for social issues and concern for his fellow man permeates every aspect of his work and personality. Nic is a breath of fresh air.
It is for these reasons that I consider him to be one of the best bosses I have ever had and also a very dear friend.
RR (known Nic for 6 years)
I first met Nic in 1996 when he was working for The Scotsman. We had a lot in common and quickly became friends.
I got to know him, Dilla and the girls, visiting them in Haddington and going to stay with them in Galloway a couple of times in 1999.
Nic was a proud and loving father and his girls obviously adored him. Everything about his politics and his core values and his behaviour as a dad was of a peace, committed, brave and loving.
No one is without faults and all of us hurt those we love as a result – all of us without exception.
And from bitter personal experience I can attest to the fact that whispered accusations behind the back of the accused, rather than a clear and evidenced case are a sure sign that a speculative and inauthentic profile is being constructed in the shadows from which it cannot be challenged because it is protected from the light of day.
Much love to a brave, brilliant and loving friend.
SS (known Nic for 22 years)
Meeting and working for Nic between 2008 and 2010 gave me a strength and inner-belief that few could ever manage. I will never forget his presence in the newsroom, his advice or guidance, all of which are worth more than gold.
He is a lovely man and I am a better person for having known him.
MT (known Nic for 10 years)
I worked for Nic for over five years, first as a trainee and then on to chief reporter. He taught me everything I know.
Not only a great journalist and editor Nic is the most compassionate manager I have ever worked for. After being diagnosed with cancer he was a massive support to me, treating me like a friend rather than an employee or a ‘number’.
I am very proud and grateful to have been a member of his team and to class him as a true friend.
NT (known Nic for 10 years)
I have come to know Nic through his writings and ultimately as a valued friend.
It is impossible to read Nic’s accounts of his life and of his struggles to gain access to his children, without being deeply moved.
Nic has a tremendous insight into self, probably more than anyone I know. Unlike so many of us humans, he can reflect and admit to his weaknesses and imperfections.
Nic is a valued friend and is a kind, caring and above all honest man.
SW (known Nic for 3 years)
I have known Nic for over 30 years and met him at a particular difficult time for him, health wise. I was a nurse, working at an oncology hospital in Cardiff, and Nic was a patient receiving radiotherapy due to him having a malignant tumour removed from his shoulder area. I would redress his wound each day, and spend a long time talking and listening to a brave, intelligent man.
I gained great insight into a man who was determined to get well and restart his life and career. I saw how he worried about other patients and how one young girl became a great friend to him and he looked out for her throughout his time at the hospital. They remained friends up until her untimely death through cancer. Again this hit Nic hard as he loved her like a younger sister he has never forgotten her and has even made time to meet her family many years later.
I for one class Nic as a caring passionate friend and know our friendship will never be lost. When you meet Nic and talk to him you know him only as a gentleman who wants the best for other people before himself. A selfless man who deserves better than what has happened to him these past years.
AY (known Nic for 31 years)