Before I get on to ‘Skag Boys’ and dip my bread into the lovely yolk that is T2: Trainspotting, I need to clear something up. I am new to this blogging business. There we go I said it. So, finding things to prattle on about can be a bit tricky. Also, have you noticed these days that sometimes people are concerned about making public their opinions? Well, smart people seem to worry about it, stupid people, well, they just love sharing their opinions. Normally it’s a manufactured idea from someone else that they share. And the legitimacy of said idea is quite questionable. But hey, they share that shit anyway.
So here I am, blogging. As stated in my previous blog, I am going to write about what I am reading, listening to and watching along with things that capture my imagination. These blogs are not, and I repeat not! Reviews. I won’t be reviewing stuff. I’ll just be issuing thoughts. Artistic merit and quality are always down to the consumer anyway. For example, I do not like the film ‘Love Actually’ for about 20 million reasons. However, is the film well made? Yes, I suppose it is. Is it well acted? Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson and Rick Grimes – hello?? Of course, it is. Lots of people love it, and fair play to them – have at it, dickheads. Personally, I’d rather watch Donald Trump take pot shots at puppies with a Luger than that shite (and I love puppies, all dogs in fact). So, the point I’m making is no judgment here, just musings.
Fine, let’s crack on. I have just finished reading ‘Skag Boys’ by Irvine Welsh. For thems that don’t know it is the prequel to his 1993, storming classic – ‘Trainspotting’ a book that deserved to sell more copies than the Bible. Well, that is what it said on the cover anyway (actually, I may do a blog comparing Trainspotting to the Bible – seriously that has legs). So before we continue, please note that this writing may contain spoilers regarding the film T2: Trainspotting. If you have yet to see it, tread carefully. You are warned.
‘Skag Boys’ is very much in the vein of ‘Trainspotting,’ it is a series of vignettes and stories each told in the first person from a different character’s point of view. The stories range from wild and crazy, to social realism, to horror, to hilarious and then to the desperately sad. Although it is a prequel, it is very much the deserved sequel to ‘Trainspotting.” We spend time with Welsh’s characters and gain an understanding of where they sit in the world. We also learn what put some of them on the path to heroin addiction.
This book is epic; it is long and immensely detailed. What I have always loved about Irvine Welsh, is that he inhabits a world that we know. If like me, you were brought up in the 80’s in one of Thatcher’s slave farms – forgotten council estates, consigned to the fringes of some British capitalist Mecca, then you will know those characters. You will have wept and worried about a Spud, and trod lightly over eggshells in your local pub sneaking past your version of Begbie. Welsh set himself a very high bar with ‘Trainspotting’ – I guess it was his ‘Thriller’. The accomplishment by which he will always be measured and will always be chasing.
I am guessing though, that he doesn’t care about that. From reading ‘Skag Boys,’ I am starting to feel that Welsh cares about his characters probably because he knows them. Wouldn’t it be brilliant, to think that he is mapping out the lives of others, friends past, perhaps gone? Maybe he is the architect of destinies unlived – wish fulfillment – putting the troubled back on a path to something resembling dignity and perhaps if they are lucky, happiness. “Skag Boys’ was a delight for me. When I went to see T2: Trainspotting, I was over the moon with a recreation of Sick Boy and Renton’s first trip to Swanny’s to buy their first bag of skag. The end credits of the film say: based on the books ‘Trainspotting and Porno’ they should have added ‘Skag Boys’. A lot of what shapes these characters, a lot of their defining moments that appear within those pages, are in that film. And it is all the better for it.
The End Bit
Welsh faced criticism over ‘Porno.’ Like all of his works that I have read, I loved them for different reasons I suppose, but I love them all the same. To me, they are often trips back to the past that I’d always thought I had walked away from, but you don’t. It is always there, and those books remind me of that fact. I suppose the only issue I had with ‘Porno’ was that it was more of a sequel to the film ‘Trainspotting’ rather than the book. Whereas ‘Skag Boys,’ even though it is a prequel, in my mind it is truly the sequel that the 1993 incendiary classic deserves.