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Welcome to Leith Walks, home of Trainspotting Tours.

Well, I got there in the end. The book is on the shelves, and I see Amazon is offering it to students at 10% discount. Dunno where they got their second-hand used copies on the day of publication. Those algorithms must be good! And of course it’s in all good bookshops near you. Waterstones list it within seven classifications.

Sometimes I was frustrated by how long it took, and I knew I was losing credibility when dear friends and family stopped asking how it was going. But I always knew it was maturing in the process. Thanks to Gavin MacDougall and all at Luath Press for having that wee bit of confidence and giving the project such a good launch before and during the Fringe in Edinburgh in August.

Here is an extract from my little speech at the launch party:

I have to thank the people at Luath Press… mostly I have to thank Gavin MacDougall, Director. I played club hockey with him twenty years ago. He came from a swanky club in Surrey, and it must have been a bit of a disappointment to him to come down to my level. I remember giving him a lift home after a game and he told me he and his wife had taken over a publishing business. I was impressed. About five or six years ago, I took him a draft of what I had knocked up, and he got a young fellow from Robert Gordon’s on a placement with him, Thomas Ross, to look at it and help me. It was mince, I recognise that now, Gavin, and you couldn’t take it further. As we parted company, on good terms, you said ‘I hope you finish your project. I think you should.’ That was a kind and generous thing to say when the prospect of the business coming your way had disappeared. It was in much better shape when I came back with it more recently, and you have taken it on. Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this weekend press, never mind the literary mags and supps, it should be a news item with a screaming headline: LUATH PRESS DOES IT AGAIN. Only a few months ago Luath published POVERTY SAFARI by Darren McGarvey. If you haven’t come across McGarvey and his book, don’t worry, you will. It won the Orwell Prize the other week, with the chair of the panel and lots of commentators saying that Orwell himself would approve of this expose of the effects of persistent poverty on the lives of people and communities. Now Luath is publishing this, CHOOSE LIFE. CHOOSE LEITH, an entirely different take on the basically the same subject. A recurring theme of my book is that widespread, out-of-control drug abuse – any drug – is a symptom of social malfunction. Yes, we are ambitious for this book, and the only thing I am pissed off about is that this boy McGarvey has jiggered any idea I might have had of getting the Best First Book of the Year Award.

I’ll be sending out an email to all my Trainspotting correspondents as soon as I can include a link to the e-version. Meanwhile, see The Book page for more details.