There is always an interest in Trainspotting, often taking the form of a look at how Leith has changed – or not changed – since the 1980s days of the heroin epidemic. Recently a French journo and his photographer were in town. See the images here. It’s good to see how an outsider sees us. I suppose I don’t see the scruffy bits after so long in the place, but I’m not going to say that these shots are unfair. You’ll recognise a few of the images, maybe quite a lot of them. We’re expecting to see the text shortly, and I’ll certainly be putting a link to it. I would like to post the best bits, but there’ll be copyright problems.
Speaking of seeing how places have changed, in Berlin recently one of us was hitting the hoch-kulture spots while the other was checking out Bahnhof Zoo – the station that was the backdrop for the Christiane F. story. I bought the book (in translation) and was struck by the similarities between this girl’s neighbourhood and our own Muirhouse (dodgy housing, dysfunctional community), and by the vivid account of the introduction to and the career in heroin. Struck but not surprised. Trainspotting contains material that is outside the heroin scene and at the end has a different trajectory, but it’s almost as though Welsh was using Christiane F.’s story as a template. Except that he had no need to, and of course he wasn’t. The conditions for and the experience of heroin are similar wherever you go.