Irvine Welsh says ‘verbal culture’ of Edinburgh influenced his writing

Irvine Welsh credited the “verbal culture” of Edinburgh as a major influence on his storytelling at the launch of his new documentary in the city.

The Trainspotting author, 64, said his film Choose Irvine Welsh, which follows his career from his early days in Leith to becoming a celebrated writer, was a “tribute” to friends across the world.

Welsh, who also owns record label Jack Said What in Brighton, splits his time between London, Miami and Edinburgh, and said people who “blether all the time” in the latter inspired his writing.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, he said: “I’ve been lucky to move around. Miami is so different from Edinburgh, it’s the other side of the world.

“Edinburgh is a very verbal culture, you get guys who just want blether all the time. That influenced my storytelling.

“Miami is a very visual culture, it’s narcissism, like ‘look at me, I’ve not got anything to say’.”

He also described himself as a “renaissance man” who produces novels, short stories, plays, films and now musicals with a Trainspotting version set to debut next year.

Irvine Welsh in Edinburgh
Irvine Welsh talked about Edinburgh’s influence on his work (Jane Barlow/PA)

Choose Irvine Welsh, directed by Ian Jefferies, features many of Welsh’s friends including Iggy Pop, Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, and Scottish actor Martin Compston, and Welsh described the documentary as “an extended tribute to a lot of pals, a lot of friends across the world”.

But he added: “I’m not excited about seeing myself on the big screen – I’m dreading it.”

This year is also the 30th anniversary of the Trainspotting novel but Welsh said the moment was “not a big deal”.

Welsh said: “It’s been a big thing, the 30th anniversary of Trainspotting, but it’s not a big deal for me, it doesn’t really mean anything.

“If you are a writer you are immersed in what you are doing at that time.

“Your previous stuff you put out and hope people like it. If they do, great. I like to write books, plays, TV shows, I like to write music.

“Because Trainspotting was successful commercially, that’s why I’m here.

“It’s the first book to pick up on moving into a world without paid work. That’s what the book is about, it’s not about drugs or youth.”

Despite his varied works, Welsh said there was one format he avoids – poetry.

He said: “I’m a renaissance man – I’ve written books, plays, TV shows, I write music.

“I’ve never really written poems. I used to write romantic poems in the school playground to girls.”

He also admitted he still enjoyed going raving, but less often.

Welsh added: “I was DJing this weekend at a festival in Buckinghamshire, I was on a late slot.

“I went into the woods, it was this mad techno thing and I got lost in it.

“It’s not really regularly but when I do I like to hit it.”

Choose Irvine Welsh is the first of two documentaries from Welsh, with another due to be released next year.