Favourite Fives: Irvine Welsh

It would be easy for me to ramble on and on for ages about how much the literature of Irvine Welsh has affected my life.  Suffice to say I feel like all his excellent books have been written specifically for me such is the size of my ego/Irvine’s talent. Speaking of which I’ll never forget the bloke who ridiculed me in front of a factory full of blokes for reading a book ‘about bloody train spotters’ way back in the Spring of 1995 until that is I pointed out my lunch-time read was all about Scottish Smack-heads  before accidentally running the Reddish radgie over with a pallet truck later the same day.  Shortly after this incident I experienced something of an epiphany regarding my social environment and it’s peers brought on directly by the events I’d been reading about in Trainspotting. I suddenly realised my toxic and occasionally violent social life was only heading in one or two predictable directions, so I buggered off to live in France for a bit to find myself and get away from the insanity. So thanks to the author of Trainspotting, Ecstasy, Marabou Stork Nightmares, The Acid House, Filth, Glue, Porno, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, Crime and Skagboys I’m no longer that lairy dickhead waving a stool around the local at closing time. Something I both think Stockport A & E department and anyone who enjoys a quiet pint should be eternally grateful to Irvine for. Needless to say, I still can’t quite believe that my favourite ever author has agreed to do us his favourite five for Proper but fuck me sideways with a copy of ‘Reheated cabbage’ he has, look…..

 Item of Clothing

Stone Island Jacket

I know Stone Island is hardly considered de rigueur, especially by the sophisticated wing of the casual movement, but I’ve a weakness for these garments, and that naughty little button on patch. The armband symbol is perfectly pitched in my psyche somewhere between a menacing street fascism, and more wholesome pursuits, evoking the ‘outward bound’ compass. I’m sentimentally attached to a jacket, which was given to me by my friends Mikey and James, who ran the famous, sadly now defunct, Original Casuals shop in Edinburgh’s South Side. “We even had cunts fae Falkirk come in here once”, James explained, “I told him: sorry pal, I’d be too embarrassed tae sell you boys anything.”


 The Man Who Walks – Alan Warner

Maybe not Alan Warner’s most famous book, but to me this is the quintessential modern Scottish novel. Macushla, “the Nephew”, is the perennial outsider, charged by his tyrannical gangster stepdad “the Foreman”, into finding the local pub’s kitty money, allegedly stolen by his wandering Jakey uncle, “The Man Who Walks.” What follows is wonderful walking (but hardly pedestrian) road trip, as Warner takes us through a hyper-real Scotland, slaughtering the myths and exposing the hidden harsh certainties of Highlandlife en route. A stone cold masterpiece. 


Station to Station- David Bowie

I can listen to the Velvet Underground all night long and not want to touch heroin, I can indulge in Frank Zappa on a hot summer’s day without being beset by the need to drop acid. Even a top house music tune, heard inadvertently on the radio, will very rarely make me want to neck an ecky. But when I put on this album I crave a big fat line of cocaine so badly, it was as if I’d just had one twenty minutes ago. The Thin White Duke has had so many finest hours, it’s hard to contend that this was his champion of champions, but that’s what I’m doing. 


The Nightwatch – Rembrandt

The greatest accolade you can give to a piece of art is that you don’t know why it moves you. When I lived in Amsterdam I used to go at least a twice a month to the Rijksmuseum to look at this picture, trying to fathom the nature of the massive emotional reaction it always elicited from me. It was only about the changing of the guard, for fucks sake! I still don’t know why this moves me like no other piece of art has been able to. I’ve seen similar works of great size and scale and the incredible faded lighting that prevails in this canvass. An old boy used to go in there every day, sit looking at it, and sob into his hanky. I wanted to put my arm round his shoulder and tell him everything was cool, that I got where he was coming from. Of course, I didn’t do this, but I often regret that.

 Something Else

Seymour, the plastic and fur mini polar bear.

I love polar bears, and this boy is made in the same manner as those old 70’s ornamental Spanish Bulls my Auntie Betty once brought back from Spain. He supervises me at work, and his eyes seem to follow you, thus it’s hard to bunk off. Also, that’s where the name comes from.


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  4. Irvin. Best to stay away from Station to Station me thinks.

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