TRAINPOSING: A sign of how inured New Yorkers are to the terrors of substance abuse is that when The Smashing Pumpkins' keyboardist died of a heroin overdose last month, the brand he'd done himself in with, Redrum (murder backwards), became the hippest high in town. Dealers in the East Village upped their prices and soon sold out altogether. So when ''Trainspotting'' spiked on to our screens late last month, it should come as no surprise that most New Yorkers found little within that could make them spill their popcorn. The critics lost it entirely (the ''New York Times's'' ad raves "the best reviewed movie of the year!") but the man in the street sometimes found himself checking his watch. Drugs, dead baby, toilet scene. So what else is new? "It was like a two-hour MTV video," a hardboiled lavender-haired miss was heard to pout. In the opinion of another New Yorker, the most horrifying image was the gleaming fry-up breakfast at Spud's girlfriend's house. "I can't get it out of my mind," he said. "Truly disgusting," and headed off to Pravda for a digestif.

But the chief Manhattan-specific drawing point of ''Trainspotting'' is that it allows New Yorkers to test their powers of Scots translation; and if there's anything a New Yorker likes, it's a chance to show off his Brit-speak decoding talent. When a blonde wails: "What's pished?" her boyfriend grins superiorly. "Don't you know? It's Scottish for 'pissed'. You know, drunk!" When an angry young woman complains to the angry young women alongside her: "So what was he saying in the job interview?" the angriest woman of them all shuts her down with a cool: "You weren't supposed to understand it. It was humour,'' and the unlucky thick one bites her earringed lip. More than a few moviegoers have the telltale purple-and- orange screenplay-cum crib notes tucked into their jacket pocket, rather like the seatback screen-prompters at the Metropolitan opera. Cheating, purists say, but just think how they'll hold court at Caffe Dante, smugly recapping Begbie's tirades to their awed, Scots-challenged pals.

A term has come into vogue among fashionable New Yorkers to describe the expats who suckled at the spout of Ribena, were weaned on Marmite, and moved to New York to land all the good jobs and dates. That term is "teabags". As in: "Who'll be at the Wax party?" "Oh you know, a bunch of male models, Conde Nast flacks and teabags." But don't be fooled into thinking that such an unceremonious name signifies anything other than deep reverence. The colt-limbed model overheard disporting herself in the Cherry Tavern this weekend with the likes of Billy Corgan, Helena Christiansen, and some three score Sick Boy lookalikes, captivated her audience by saying: "Yeah, I got most of ''Trainspotting''. I mean Renton's accent was totally Edinburgh. But Spud-well, you know, I don't do Glasgow." Teabags present howled in approval.

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