Man at His Best

Irvine Welsh: What I've Learned

"Don't mistake writing what you know for writing about yourself."

BY BEN MITCHELL | Apr 5, 2016 | Culture

Steve Schofield

I'm suspicious of all these people who say, "I've got this great unifying philosophy of life and this is what it's all about..." I think they just make up that shit to sound good. I don't really have any philosophy. Life is just something that you muddle through using whatever tools come to hand at the time.

I have an inability to look beyond two weeks ahead and I have an inability to look back and reflect on the past. I've got pals who can tell me that we had a night out in 1978 and they'll remember what kind of jumper I was wearing. To have that kind of mind is bizarre to me.

Even when I had hair, I stopped going to the barber. When it started to recede I just shaved it. I went seamlessly bald.

My wife can't stand any violence in films. I think, "This is just actors" and don't feel that it's real. It's the other way around with romance. She'll laugh but I get really involved. Tears start streaming down my face. I think, "These people are in love and the world's against them!”

I never got cannabis. It just made me tired.

When I'm travelling, I'll take a jump rope so I can do some skipping. I'll always try and find a way to do some kind of exercise, even if it's just loads of press-ups in my hotel room. I get very physically energised and it doesn't really go anywhere unless I work it off.

My dress sense is brilliant. Absolutely fucking unbeatable. I've got lots of nice clothes but I always wear the same shite. I buy clothes that are far too young for me. I think, "These would look good on a younger guy." I don't want to buy clothes that are age-appropriate because I hate them. I'm going to make a resolution, actually — I'm going to dress better.

A lot of people like the idea of writing a book. They'll tell you about it from a bar stool. Try sitting in a room on your own for days… months… years. Not everybody is cut out for that. It's important to know yourself.

Don't mistake writing what you know for writing about yourself.

I've always been a crazy tennis fan. I used to bunk off school and watch Wimbledon. My favourite player was Roscoe Tanner. I've never been any good at tennis because I'm shit at all sports.

The perfect album has got to be an imperfect album. I love Bowie's Diamond Dogs. It's a transitional album. He's finding the power and range in his voice, so he's really belting it out.

My best dance move is to take a pill and go fucking nuts. Obviously, I'm getting a bit old for that now. Pulling all-nighters is probably beyond me these days.

Trainspotting has been around for so long now that it belongs to the world. It's become this big, cultural marking point, really, this artefact, and it cuts right across countries. I'm very, very lucky that I was able to do that with my first novel because everybody wants to have a book like that.

Every time I've tried to do something for money — I'm talking about everything in life — it's never really worked out for me. I have never really enjoyed myself and, usually, I've not really made the kind of money that I want.

I've got a place in Miami but I'm mostly based in Chicago. The great thing about Chicago is people in the Midwest are easy-going. They don't make a big fuss about success. If you want somebody crawling up your arse you should move to New York or LA.

I've become a spoilt bastard. I have. It's horrible. I tweet about when an aeroplane's late and I'm waiting. Really, I'm one of those people with fuck-all to worry about.

When you're young you're driven by hormones. You don't always see the complexity of a human being — you just see somebody that you want to get off with. Once you get beyond that and start relating a bit more, you understand that this is just somebody who's going through the same kind of shit as you and there's no need to be such a one-dimensional prick.

My hobbies are my work. It's the greatest thing in the world.

Having kids is something I've kind of avoided. I've got a lot of mates who were basically born to be dads. I've got a lot of other friends who should never be fathers. I think men just go along with what the woman wants to do, sometimes.

I do have quite a bit of bouncebackability. I maybe have one or two days a year when my biorhythms just slump and I stay in and watch DVDs — but I'm very, very upbeat.

My dad worked on the docks briefly and then he got tuberculosis, so he sold carpets. I was in my twenties when I lost my dad.

If people want to believe in God, let them get on with it. If they don't, equally, let them get on with that, too. I do believe there's an intrinsic morality and goodness that people have and I think our challenge is to set up a world that's free from all the hassles and pain that force the badder side of human nature to emerge.

Everything going your way isn't a good thing because you start to make big disasters out of trivial things. You think the whole world should be designed for you.

I try to treat people as I like to be treated myself and all that. I'm not always successful but that's what I aim to do.

We used to call it credit. We're more forthcoming about it these days. Now we call it debt.

The Blade Artist (Jonathan Cape) is published on April 7.

From: Esquire UK.