‘A bit of chat followed by a few tunes’ - A Night Out With Irvine Welsh in Belfast

Ahead of him bringing his evening of talking and tunes to Belfast, we quiz the Trainspotting author about clubbing, writing, TV adaptations and James Joyce

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh
The Trainspotting author will be in Belfast on Saturday

BORN in Edinburgh and matured in the housing schemes of Leith, West Pilton and Muirhouse, novelist Irvine Welsh was first inspired to write after experiencing the explosions of punk and rave.

Trainspotting, Welsh’s 1993 debut novel, was rejected from the Man Booker Prize shortlist, allegedly for offending the judges.

It went on to sell over a million copies in the UK alone and was adapted into an acclaimed ‘immersive’ live production, Trainspotting: Live before becoming the hit Danny Boyle-directed film starring Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle and Kelly MacDonald in 1996. A stage musical version is currently in the works.

The novel’s 2002 sequel, Porno was eventually adapted into T2: Trainspotting, which reunited the cast and crew from the original film for another go-around in 2017.

On the page, the antiheroes of Trainspotting, Renton, Begbie, Sick Boy and Spud, inhabit a fictional universe based on Welsh’s experience of an inner-city Scotland blighted by Thatcherism and drug abuse.

This universe has been continually expanded in books such as Skagboys, The Blade Artist and A Decent Ride, and has been augmented by characters from subsequent books like Juice Terry, Post Alec, Jonty McKay and wayward cops Bruce Roberson and Ray Lennox – the latter pair played by James McAvoy and Dougray Scott respectively in the film Filth and the TV series Crime.

Now the author of 14 novels, including the forthcoming Ray Lennox-centred Resolution and four books of shorter fiction, Welsh enjoys a dedicated global readership.

The Scot has also been involved in dance music for most of his life as a DJ and promoter, and is a partner in the Brighton-based record label Jack Said What with Carl Loben and Steve Mac.

Currently living between Edinburgh, London and Miami, he serves as the official ambassador of the Homeless World Cup and works with local, national and international charities.

We asked him a few questions about what punters can expect from his upcoming event at The Limelight.

A Night Out With Irvine Welsh


We’re looking forward to A Night Out With Irvine Welsh, what have you got in store for us in Belfast?

A bit of chat followed by a few tunes.

What does a typical ‘night out’ tend to look like for you these days? Do you still enjoy clubbing or have you retreated into the pubs?

I still do the odd bit of clubbing, even if the legs and feet are a bit dodgy for an all-nighter. It’s strategic dancing these days.

What’s your ‘getting ready’ music of choice before heading out?

I like music I can sing along to. So, it’s usually the Doors, Led Zep etc.

What’s been your best ever night out, and what was the worst?

The best ones are when you meet somebody fantastic. The worst ones are when you end up in jail or hospital.

Tell us a bit about your forthcoming new novel, Resolution. Is Ray Lennox a troubling character to write - and are you now picturing Dougray Scott in your head as you go?

Yes, actors tend to colonise your mind, especially if they are so invested in the role and perform it like Dougray.

Fortunately, it doesn’t matter in this case, as my visualisation of Lennox is very close to him.

You’ve been doing lots of TV recently with Crime, what’s it been like working in that realm and which other existing series would you love to have a crack at writing for?

It’s been a wonderful experience, but we’ve had a great lead actor, a terrific cast, a fabulous producer and worked with brilliant, supportive people at the channel, who knew the type of material I enjoy writing can be problematic in its transition to the screen.

It was the 30th anniversary of Trainspotting last year, how did you celebrate that milestone and is there anything in it the book you wish you could go back and change?

No. You can’t think like that. Once they’re done, they’re done. Onto the next.

What’s happening with Trainspotting: The Musical?

We’re raring to go. Just need to find the right theatre and we’re off.

Who is your favourite author and which of their books do you return to the most?

Joyce isn’t my favourite author (though he’s certainly in the top 10) and Ulysses isn’t my favourite book, but it’s the one I return to most.

Finally, it’s the end of the night - what’s your takeaway of choice on the way home?

I never eat in the evenings. I’ve had a 32-inch waist for decades and my wife likes me that way.

A Night Out With Irvine Welsh, Saturday April 20, The Limelight, Belfast. Tickets via Limelightbelfast.com