Trainspotting's Welsh gets Twitter 'Filthy' for Cannes

Roddy Thomson
Irvine Welsh, author of "Trainspotting", and novelist Nami Mun attend the 2012 Carl Sandburg Literary Awards dinner at the University of Illinois on October 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Twitter and Welsh are undeniably made for each other. Welsh, whose latest film adaptation "Filth" will be shown to potential distributors in Cannes on Saturday, has taken to the micro-blogging site with alacrity

Twitter and Irvine Welsh, the iconic "Trainspotting" author, are undeniably made for each other.

Welsh, whose latest film adaptation "Filth" will be shown to potential distributors in Cannes on Saturday, has taken to the micro-blogging site with alacrity, saying it helps him with the writing process.

The author proved his gift for memorable one-liners long before the age of Twitter with the now-cult "choose life" monologue from his 1993 debut "Trainspotting". The oft-quoted speech lampooned a government anti-drugs campaign and was later immortalised by a young Ewan McGregor in Danny Boyle's 1996 film adaption of the book.

Welsh's Twitter following suggests he has not lost his touch: @WelshIrvine counts some 75,000 followers and his account stands at nearly 22,000 tweets.

His newest film "Filth" features a corrupt policeman played by Scottish actor James McAvoy and the story's abundance of sex and drugs will likely make it as controversial as "Trainspotting".

Welsh is still best known for his debut novel which tracks a group of drug addicts in their destructive downward spiral across Edinburgh -- trainspotting is slang for injecting heroin.

The tale of lost youth and cynical redemption became a crossover cinema smash, catapulting Welsh, himself a one-time Edinburgh heroin addict, to global success.

These days Welsh has swapped the Scottish capital for the United States where, he says, he uses Twitter to hone his output "in character" during writing.

Welsh said he was "absolutely obsessed" with Twitter one year after joining, but he said he had no time for that other major social network.

"I hate Facebook -- for one thing, I get stopped by all these birds who wouldn't shag me in the day, but now they're on their second divorce," Welsh said as he sat down with AFP in Brussels before his departure for the Cannes film festival.

Welsh helped build a Twitter profile with a series of expletive-laden tweets cheering on Scottish tennis star Andy Murray to his first Grand Slam title last September, when he beat Novak Djokovic at the US Open.

"I don't think you can be too self-conscious about it," Welsh said of an online style he says allows him to re-connect with "the guys down the pub" while filling holes in his literary output schedule for fans.

"Otherwise, you're killing the golden goose that lays the egg."

Welsh, fresh from a Brussels conference on digital content, said he saw purpose in Twitter as it could help change world views for a Europe-wide generation of nihilistic youths threatened by the continent's longest-ever recession.

The writer says he has seen up close "Trainspotting" character clones, "from Cape Town to Moscow."

"Drug consumption wins by default when there's nothing else there -- intoxication and festivity is as old as the hills, but now it's been replaced by the idea of blotting out the terrors of life.

"It's like going to a zoo, you see these polar bears buzzing about in a loop -- dysfunctional, we're doping ourselves up on drugs, on shopping and reality TV to get through the pain... It doesn't go anywhere!"

He urged those who see little hope after taking a battering from the financial crisis to use the power of social media to open new doors, saying the online platforms offered a window into activism.

As for his own country, Welsh said he could see stirrings of hope nearly 20 years after the experiences that inspired "Trainspotting."

Scotland votes in September 2014 in a referendum on independence from the rest of the United Kingdom and Welsh has argued passionately in favour of Scotland assuming statehood in its own right.

Ever the provocateur, he even suggested to AFP that there might be lessons here for his adopted home.

"America is a country that's crying out for a two-state solution," Welsh said, utterly deadpan.

"I always think, let these states that have guns, God and anti-abortion, let them go!

"New York, Hollywood and the rest... let them, and the southern states, do their own things."