Thanks to everyone who came on a tour during August. The weather was never kind to us. But, standing at the foot of the ramp that used to lead up to platform level at Leith Central Station – the location for the eponymous utterance – I finally sorted out what’s going on in the fiction. There are two metaphors, one to do with the junky scene and the other concerns the ravaging of the Leith community by sheer bad planning during the childhood years of the Trainspotting generation. And there’s another clever literary device going on! They are interwoven, and it takes some sorting out. It’s testing out my thinking with you, my customers, that gives me the confidence to put this into my book. Which is making good progress, by the way. Stay in touch.
Last Friday Welsh joined with Scottish and American literary friends in a fun evening of readings and anecdotes. On Saturday he read from Skagboys at the Edinburgh Book Festival, and on Sunday he gave the ‘keynote speech’ at a writers’ conference broadly on the question of what is a ‘national literature’. It isn’t immediately obvious to me that he had much of any consequence to say. The next day’s headlines said he ’blasted’ the Booker Prize because its linguistic requirement is ‘based on the conceit that upper-class Englishness is the cultural yardstick against which all literature must be measured’. Is that true? Even if it is true, is it genuinely a problem and can it be used as a blanket condemnation of the Prize? Let’s face it, there is a Scottish prize which would not rule out Welsh’s work on linguistic grounds, and Welsh has never won it. Alan Massie has suggested that Welsh was doing nothing more subtle than parading his own proudly Scottish and defiantly anti-establishment brand. The very idea!
Lots of people in Leith have been helping the research team for the Radio 4 show ‘Mark Steel’s in town’ this week. Mark’s job is to get inside the history and the character of wherever he goes and make it funny, stand-up style. They are recording on Saturday; it goes out at 6.30pm on Tuesday 21 August and online at www.bbb.co.uk/radio4. There’s also a film version on the BBCtv red button. We have fed them a few good gags, and they’ll have some more of their own. They can’t miss out Trainspotting and Leith’s most famous son… can they? Bound to be good fun. Don’t miss it.
Click on The Walks page to see the August programme. No advance booking or enquiries necessary – it’s turn-up-and-go. Looking forward to seeing you.
All hail, Danny Boyle (and those who gave him the space to express himself). Both Trainspotting and the Olympic launch are full of ambition and attitude. In London last week, on a hugely risky and potent stage, he saved us from what would otherwise have been a corporate gimmicky nonsense or an equally futile piece of state propaganda. Here’s a draft paragraph from the introduction to my book, written long before last week:
… We look back now on the book, the play and the film, the Trainspotting Trilogy, three elements in one phenomenon, impossible to merge and impossible to separate. All three elements are capable of critical analysis, all three had their separate impacts, and yet there is a combined effect. All three are fast-moving, kaleidoscopic and flawed, and bold enough to pose questions and problems without providing answers and solutions. Although inspired by Welsh’s book, the whole was not the work of a single mind or hand, it was not processed through committees, it did not seek official approval or funding. Within three short years the trilogy was brought into being by a variety of engineers, who all had to come forward, ready to go at the right time. Using raw talent, clear vision, energy and courage, it was cobbled together creatively, responsively, urgently. It might never have happened. But it did happen. Irvine Welsh never wrote a better book. Harry Gibson never produced a better play. Danny Boyle, Andrew Macdonald and John Hodge never made a better film.
There – I’m proud of it already! Danny Boyle, man of the people, teller of how it is. Gwaun yersel, man!
Let’s be honest – there were no winning witty entries in my competition for a free Tour for Two. Being completely honest, there were no entries at all. Perhaps ‘witty’ wasn’t the right focus. But THE PRIZE is still available for anyone who contributes to a discussion about St Danny and Trainspotting.