‘If you take drugs it does make you much more aware of how your body actually functions, things like your heart-rate, shortness of breath, sweating, kidney pains. Everyone goes around in their bodies, the notion of everyone ﬂoating around in their heads isn’t the whole story at all.’
people in a similar state — it‘s like a kind of filter-
each other is interesting as well; one of the themes in this book is the way that an ongoing
supernatural element — things are never so bad that they can’t get worse. 'l‘hat’s partly what the God figure in the Boab (‘oyle story represents. but at the same time you could look at it as a metaphor for the main eharaeter"s conscience. telling him that he could really try and get things together a bit more. Whereas the characters in some of the other stories have just gone so far down the line. they‘ve been so continually brutalised that they’ve no real
recognition of ever having been empowered to the point where
they could conceive of changing things.‘ As this suggests. many of
Welsh‘s stories dive right in at the sharp end of the current debate over moral responsibil- ity. the uncomfortable grey area between left and right wing nature/nurture positions on the roots of destructive behaviour. ‘Rather than looking at that in a kind of intellectual or philosophical way. i try to strip it down to its barest bones. to where these questions actually touch people's lives.‘ he says. ‘I like to challenge my own views and feelings about things —- yoti take the standard leftish approach that says people's behaviour iii this situation is explained by what the government or the state have done to them. then you get somebody to behave in a way that's really morally beyond the pale. so you have to ask yourself how that can be defensible or even comprehensible.‘ ()ne of \V'elsh‘s gifts is his ability to render such behaviour all too compre— hensible. raising questions which harshly
12 The List 25 February l0 March I994
ing process.‘ he explains. "l‘he way they spark off
series of bad luck can seem to take on a kind of
Welsh is describing people who stumble through life dealing with what’s in front of their noses, whether it’s sick desperation tor the next fix, a good kicking, or yet another random, run- ot-the-mill bit disaster from which the only readily available escape is to get blootered.
undermine simplistic theoretical notions about right and wrong.
Two central. and not unconnected. elements of Welsh’s fictional technique are the emphatic. often stomach-turning relish with which he conveys the immediate physical. bodily reality of his characters’ circumstances. and the rapid- lire. episodic structure of his writing: he is describing. much of the time. people who stumble through life dealing with what‘s in front of their noses. whether it’s sick despera- tion for the next fix. a good kicking. or yet another random. run-of—the-mill bit disaster from which the only readily available escape is to get blootered. ‘When people get desperate. the short-term always tends to dominate —- all you see is the next hurdle to get over. and often the ways people get through do make a lot of sense in that context. even if in the longer term it's just messing them tip more and more. Addictions are like that. in a sense. trying to satisfy some immediate craving or need; that's also where a lot of the physical stuff comes from. because if you take drugs it does make you much more aware of how your body actually functions. things like your heart-rate. shortness of breath. sweating. kidney pains. More broadly. it‘s an antidote to a lot of writing that gets far too cerebral — everyone goes around in their bodies. the notion of everyone floating around in their heads isn‘t the whole story at all.’
Welsh‘s forays into new territory within his work are mirrored by his efforts — in collabora- tion with Rebel lnc. magazine. to which he is a regular contributor — to take fiction and poetry otit of their familiar contexts. into new surroundings where they can be made accessi- ble to a different kind of audience. In particular. as an enthusiastic devotee of the rave scene. he is interested in finding ways to integrate new writing with club culture. 'A lot of the stuff I like to read doesn't sit too nicely with the idea of sitting around in Waterstone‘s with glasses of wine.‘ he says. ‘l‘m looking for a setting that’s a wee bit more exciting. that's actually relating to culture as it‘s happening.’
The first attempt at a reading-rave synthesis was the 'lnvisible lnsurrection' event at Edinburgh's La Belle Angele late last year. combining writers‘ performances of their work with slots by leading Dis. "l‘here was some element of crossover. btit not as much as we wanted.‘ Welsh says. Although a lot of people enjoyed the music. atid a lot of people enjoyed the readings. they tended to be slightly different crowds. btit at least the people listening to the readings were people you wouldn't expect to see at the usual bookshop events. The new idea is fora kind of post-rave. chill- otit club. where people can go and listen to readings when they‘re coming down a wee bit btit don‘t want to go home yet; they can come and crash otit on beanbags and try some of this stuff otit. I think the rave scene‘s kind of interactive ethos is brilliant — the DJs aren't the stars. they're just responding to the audience‘s needs. everyone‘s‘ interacting in a really positive way with each other; I‘d like to try and get closer to something like that through writing.‘ T_l T/lt’ xit‘it/ Home is published by ./()II(lI/I(lll (vi/w u! [9.99.
by Irvine Welsh
he warden. .\irs French I
think they call her. is
looking me tip and down.
it‘s fairly obvious that she
doesn‘t like what she sees:
her ga/c has a steely ice to it; it‘s definitely a negative evaluation I'm getting here.
-— So. she says. hands on hips. eyes llitting suspiciously in that glistening yellow-brown foundation mask topped by a brittle head of brown hair. you're .\irs Abercrombie's gt'andson'.’ ;
r Aye. I acknowledge. I shouldn‘t : resent .\irs l‘rench. She's only doing her job. Were she less than vigilant in I keeping her eye on the auld doll. i complaints from the family would ' ensue. 1 also have to acknowledge ! that I am less than presentable: lank. ' greasy black hair. a scrawny growth sprouting from a deathly white face broken tip by a few red and yellow spots. .\iy overcoat has seen better days and I can't remember when I changed into these jeans. sweatshirt. t-shii‘t. trainers. socks and boxer- shorts.
Well. I suppose you'd better come iii. .\lrs l‘rcnch said. reluctantly shifting her si/cablc btilk. l stjtiee/ed past. still brushing against her. .\lrs lirench was like an oil tanker. it took a while for her to actually change direction. She's on the second floor. You don‘t come to see her very often. do you'.’ she said with ati accusatory pout.
.\'o. lith is the first time I‘ve been to see the auld doll since she moved into this Sheltered Housing scheme. That must be over five years ago now. Very few families are close nowadays. l’eoplc move around. live in different parts of the country. lead different hvcs. lt’s pointless lamenting something as inevitable as the decline of the extended family network; in a way it‘s a good thing because it gives people like .\lrs French tubs.
.-\h don‘t stay local. l intimble. making my way down the corridor. ; feeling a twinge of self-hate for } justifying myself to the warden. E