“By definition, you have to live until you die. Better to make that life as complete and enjoyable an experience as possible, in case death is shite, which I suspect it will be.”
Whilst it was Ewan McGregor that uttered these immortal words in Trainspotting, it’s a line only Irvine Welsh could write; pithy, dark, human, inescapably Northern, treating the now as sacrosanct. Welsh is the Scottish author of Trainspotting, Acid House, Porno and Ecstacy. The clues lie in the titles; a gatecrasher on the literary scene, he’s one of the few novelists known as much for his hedonism as his words. The white tablet moving from tongue to tongue, the pulsing throb of a house beat reverberating through the club. Welsh lived it before writing it.
With little concern for literary tradition, Welsh writes as the words his Scottish junkie, hoodlum, crook and waster characters are heard. From his latest novel Skagboys: “The copper stares at us in utter contempt … Ah’m oan the program, ah tell um. -Check if ye like. Ah’m aw seek cause they nivir gied us enough methadone … Check wi the lassie at the clinic if ye dinnae believe us.” He writes like he parties; by binging. In one go 100,000 words will be hammered out, most of it left for dead. Again and again, he introduces us to young men swapping working class Scottish life for the other side of the divide; addiction, criminality, hedonism, ecstasy, violence, despair.
Welsh is 53 now. He divides his time between Chicago, Dublin, Miami, LA and his native Leigh, Edinburgh. When i-D online meet him he’s just off a transatlantic flight, his voice slurred from jet lag, a little paunch showing beneath his leather jacket. He’s slowing down now, enjoying luxuries, but who can blame him. He could have chosen a big television, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. He didn’t. He chose life.
Text: Tom Seymour
Film: Asylum Films