Plugspotting

Slightly to my surprise, The Scotsman published my letter and here:

In your editorial Gunspotting (24 March) you credit Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting with as much influence on public discourse in its subject areas as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Grapes of Wrath and 1984 were in theirs. Putting Welsh on this roll of honour, you are wondering if he’ll do it again, with his next book, set in the US gun culture. No pressure!

This is a remarkable change of tune from you, as a leader and reflector of Scottish public opinion. For ten years after the publication of Trainspotting, Welsh was a foul-mouthed glorifier or trivialiser of heroin. The City of Literature scheme, formed in 2004, could do no other than recognise his place in the pantheon of Scottish literary greats, if not on literary merit, then on sheer impact on the reading public. Then, in 2010 Rev Councillor Rt Hon George Grubb, Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, hailed Welsh as “an iconic chronicler of our city”.

After 15 years of conducting Trainspotting tours of Leith – which the tourist board initially deplored – I have written my own book which examines how Welsh did indeed change public perceptions of the drug scene, where it collided with the newly-arrived ‘gay men’s disease’, rapidly re-named HIV. It will be out by August, in time for the 25th anniversary of the launch of Trainspotting.

They correctly realised that in addition to making my point it is a plain old-fashioned plug for my book. I love the heading they gave it: Plugspotting! Not every new book has this sort of opportunity for advance publicity.