Spud’s Christmas

So Irvine Welsh has written a short story for the Christmas edition of The Big Issue, the monthly magazine of a charity that supports homeless folk. Good on him – it’s one of several worthy causes Welsh has supported over the years. But we should worry. This could be the death of Begbie as we have known and hated him all these years. Remember the short story Elspeth’s Boyfriend (in the anthology Reheated Cabbage), in which Begbie is at his brilliantly evil worst on Christmas day with his mother, brother, sister, and her boyfriend? Read it again. Apparently now, twenty years on, Begbie has found love and happiness through art and a woman. Everyone should have hope, says Welsh, and he hopes some of this will rub off onto people in desperate situations this Christmas. So do I. I’ll be buying The Big Issue.

Anyway, my contribution for the December meeting of my wee writing group is going to take the idea of redemption a bit further. I’ll be writing Spud’s Christmas. We all love Spud, and would like him to find peace and happiness. Whatever next? Could there be a Trainspotter’s reunion in a suitable Leith pub as early as next Christmas? Somebody will need to write a piece on how Sick Boy becomes a reasonable human being. And Renton, after all that good luck and undeserved praise, must be a pain in the arse by now. He’ll be the hardest character to persuade to turn up.

Favourite Scottish novel of last fifty years?

Another plaudit comes Welsh’s way. In a Scottish Book Trust poll Trainspotting has just been voted the favourite Scottish novel of the last half-century. Congratulations are in order. Can’t argue with a popular vote. But Welsh is right to raise doubts about the award. He says he’s not convinced it’s the best book he has ever written, and nor am I. And as I will be showing in my book, it is not a novel, and furthermore Trainspotting owes a great deal to its editor, Robin Robertson. Give the big man his due, though, for being insightful and bold, and let’s acknowledge he has writing talent. Sure, Trainspotting has merit, and it became an object of study around the world, something you can’t say for some other contenders for the award. Welsh owes more than a pint to Harry Gibson and Ian Brown (of Trainspotting the play) and to Danny Boyle and his gang (of Trainspotting the film) for turning his book into such a cultural phenomenon.